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• .- '■• 






T^ISCUasiNC itPBt wtiechep there ever was im hts- 
torloal Jcautt, Dr. KalthoIT ouUtnaa ibaoompUoated 
;op4 which. In Grrooe, Romo, luid Judea, ppepaped 
' rop Chritttlanlly, dcsorlbos ihe nature of the 
r CbFlatlan communttlos, and In the llnol «haptei< 
I with Lht! rnture or the I'atth. 







London : 



Tl!-: NEW \C...''. 





Was There an Historical Jesus? . . . i 

The Preparation for Christianity in the Roman 
Empire - - - - - ' - - 33 


The Preparation for Christianity in Greek Philo- 
sophy .--.--- 59 

The Preparation for Christianity in Judaism - 73 

The Communistic Clubs ----- loi^ 

The Organisation of the Christian Community - 117 

The Christian Church - - - - - 154 

The Future of Christianity - - - - 184 


» M 


Chapter L 



It sometimes happens in the scientific discus- 
sion of a problem that we make a considerable 
advance towards its solution by abandoning 
some point of view from which we have fruit- 
lessly striven to master it, and confronting 
it from a fresh position. The experience 
suggests itself forcibly in the controversy with 
regard to the historical character of Jesus. 
Starting from the theory that the evangelical 
writings of the New Testament must be 
regarded as sources of evidence for the life- 
story of an historical individual, liberal 
theology has lost itself in a labyrinth from 
which it cannot escape. Even in circles 
where the dogma of a personal founder of 
Christianity is still rigorously maintained, 
people are beginning to see that very little 
biographical material can be obtained from 
the Gospels. During a discussion at Dort- 
mund, for instance. Professor Kahler of 



Halle, an adherent of the orthodox school, 
said that ''we have not a single authentic 
word that was uttered by Jesus." Professor 
Steck of Berne, a liberal theologian, describes 
the present situation of the Gospel question in 
the following terms (in the Protestantische 
Manatshefte for March, 1903) : — 

The truth is that not only must the Gospel 
stories of miracles be regarded as the outcome of 
legend-making or symbolical poetry, but the rest 
of their contents, unassailable in itself, must be 
granted to be intimately bound up with that 
element, and must not be considered as authentic 
history. Any man who has made some study of 
the question, and closely examined the contents of 
these remarkable writings — who has, in other 
words, clearly recognised subjective influence in 
the different stamp set on the words of Jesus by 
the several Evangelists — must long ago have 
awakened from the dream that we have here a 
sufficiently solid ground for the construction of a 
biography. The parables and the Sermon on the 
Mount, like the other sayings of Jesus, are found 
to be permeated with elements that can only have 
originated in the Christology of the community, 
not in the self-consciousness of Jesus. For instance, 
the well-known saying, which might be taken as a 
genuine utterance of Christ as far as its general 
contents go, " Whoever will come after me must 
deny himself, and take up his cross and follow 
me " (Matt. xvi. 24 ; Mark viii. 34 ; Luke ix. 23), 
cannot possibly have been spoken in this form 
before the crucifixion of Jesus. Thus there is a 
good deal in the Gospels that plainly bears the 
stamp of the consciousness of the community ; and, 



if we start from quite critical premises, we 
must come to the conclusion that we have no 
absolute certainty that any single saying in the 
Gospels was uttered in that precise form by Jesus 

Between these representatives of two totally 
different ecclesiastical schools we find the 
many attempts at compromise which, while 
granting that the documents do not really 
provide a biography of Jesus, nevertheless 
make every effort to construct one. Is it not 
time we recognised that the postulate of this 
kind of theology is false ? Ought we not to 
approach the question from another side 
altogether ? 

I will deal here only with the negative side 
of the Christ-problem — the denial that Chris- 
tianity takes its rise from an historical indi- 
vidual — in so far as it seems necessary to 
introduce readers who are unacquainted with 
the main lines of my social theology into the 
positive research of the present work. That 
Christianity should be regarded as a particular 
development of social life, and not as the 
work of a personal founder of a religion ; that 
the rise and character of Christianity should 
not be sought in the " historical Jesus " whom 
liberal theologians put at the commencement 
of the system — ^all this must be so plain to one 


who is acquainted to some extent with the 
methods of modern science that I may seem 
to have devoted far too much attention to the 
subject in my earlier works. 

There is, even in scientific matters, a kind 
of hypnotic suggestion by which certain 
groups of ideas survive and impose them- 
selves so effectively that a man often thinks he 
is looking at them with his own eyes when he 
is really examining them through the glasses 
of others and conceiving them in the thoughts 
of others. It is only by a suggestion of this 
character that I can understand the persistence 
of the idea of a life of Jesus. How such a 
literature arose originally is not difficult to 
understand. As the mental development of 
the race advanced from the transcendental 
world of the older metaphysic to the 
full reality of life, from dogmatic truth, 
imposed by an external authority, to a greater 
independence and self-reliance, the position of 
the older theology was shattered. It was 
compelled either to use all the available 
material for strengthening its position, or else 
to enter upon a revision of its fundamental 
assumptions. In this revision, however, 
theology has been hampered by its inherent 
weaknesses ; it has not been clear either as to 


the methods that should be employed, or the 
end that should be held in view. 

Theologians saw clearly enough that it was 
impossible to retain the contradictory narrative 
in all its Platonic-Christian naivete, but they 
had not the courage or the energy to accom- 
modate their faith entirely to the monistic 
temper of modern thought. They desire 
relief from all that has become irksome — 
emancipation from Rome and its priests, and 
even from the letter of Protestant formulae — 
but German theologians at least have not yet 
reached a positive freedom, a consciousness of 
the independent, creative life of the modern 
spirit. They seek to retain and immortalise 
in science the dualism that has been cast out 
of the general life. They claim a separate 
province and a separate method of work, 
different from that of all other science, which 
is based on a division of labour. They have 
of late solemnly declared, in the person of 
one of their most influential representatives. 
Professor Harnack, that it is the science of 
religion ; but that merely means that theology 
refuses to apply fully and frankly the methods 
and laws of general scientific thought in its 
own province. 

This opens out at once a clear field for 


"lives of Christ." Since modern thought no 
longer tolerated the attempt to trace the rise 
of Christianity to the transcendental world of 
Platonic-Christian ideas, it seemed natural to 
convert the God-Man, to whom the Church 
traced its origin, the Christ with both divine 
and human nature, into a single individual, a 
natural human being. The next step was for 
theological science to construct the biography 
of this human Jesus ; at first after the fashion 
of the older Rationalism, merely changing 
the supernatural features ascribed to Jesus in 
the Bible into natural ones, then in the spirit 
of critical theology, which regarded these 
narratives as later interpolations in the natural 
depictment of Jesus, and so sought to 
determine what was original and what was a 
later accretion. 

Theologians imagined that they had thus 
met the claims of historical science. But, 
apart from the inherent difficulties that 
revealed themselves in the writing of the 
life of Jesus, and that eventually turned out 
to be impossibilities, the modern demand 
for intellectual independence and the religious 
temper that looked far into the future came into 
hopeless conflict with this historical postulate 
of the theologian. Protestant theology was 


dominatedy in its search for the historical 
JesuSy by the idea that Christianity was abso- 
lutely pure and divine in its origin — ^some- 
thing quite distinct, even in its human 
embodiment, from the general life of the 
time, something that only contracted in the 
course of time the elements which the more 
advanced conscience even of modern theo- 
logy has had to repudiate. But a theology 
that finds itself compelled, as we have seen 
lately in the case of Harnack, to postulate a 
degeneration from an originally pure principle 
at the very beginning of the story, is quite 
alien to the methods of historical science 
generally. It forfeits the very name of 
science. Clearly, it was not scientific, but 
sectarian, principles from which theology 
started, when it endeavoured to remove from 
the older figure of Christ all the features that 
had become distasteful to the theologians of 
the nineteenth century, and to ascribe them to 
later historical influences. To do this it 
needed the fiction that there was in the 
historical Jesus an ^^bsolute principle of 
Christianity and (as Christianity was con- 
sidered the standard religion) of religion 
generally, so that it gave ih^ an ideal by 
which they might test the religiote and moral 



value of the whole of life. On such a fiction 
the whole of liberal theology was bound to be 
shipwrecked. The autonomous spirit of our 
time will not suffer a man who lived at a 
certain time and place to be made the absolute 
law of its own life. 

And thus the interest that lay behind the 
theologian's search for an historical Jesus 
disappeared from the mind of our age. If 
theology had succeeded in its task (though it 
has certainly not done so), no thoughtful man 
of our time would follow it in the further 
conclusion that the whole development of the 
Church must be measured by the historical 
Jesus. We can only regard it as a relic of 
the old theories of natural right and the 
Rousseau idea of perfection in the earliest 
stages of life — doctrines long ago expelled 
from the rest of science — ^when we find theo- 
logians seeking a primitive personality or a 
primitive principle of the Christian system, 
so as to place at the beginnings of its history 
the ideals that really arise only in the course 
of its further development. Why should not 
the historical elements that have co-operated 
with this historical Jesus in creating historical 
Christianity be appreciated just as fully as 
those that are connected with the person of 



Jesus ? Why should we say that the streams 
that flowed from Rome and Greece into the 
broad bed of Christian culture were impure, 
and that only the stream issuing from Jeru- 
salem was pure? The far-seeing Zwingli 
pointed out long ago that we must not 
venture to confine the Holy Spirit to 
Palestine. How came a theology, calling 
itself critical and scientific, to insist that a 
certain Jew must in all circumstances be 
regarded as the creator of the Christian 
spiritual life? 

Historical research cannot possibly tolerate 
this prominence of one single constituent of 
the Christian religion at the expense of all the 
others. The elements that have made their 
appearance in the history of the Church are as 
essential parts of Christianity as that which 
the liberal theologian now regards as the only 
vital one. Historical truth is always instruc- 
tive and helpful, even when it contradicts our 
most treasured convictions ; historical untruth 
is always dangerous, because it uses history 
to support its own interest in the past, and to 
give the stamp of absoluteness and eternal 
necessity to something that shares the limita- 
tions of time. 

We have here, then, the feature that 


doomed liberal theology from the very start. 
It tried to sit on two stools. It would be 
scientific, yet render service to an eccle- 
siastical system ; it would study history, but 
in its investigations would leave intact those 
elements of tradition that secure to the Church 
a privileged position in life. Its religion is 
not a belief in the truth, but belief in a Church 
— its own Church, its own theology. If 
historical research had not so long cut off the 
province of theology from its general opera- 
tions and abandoned it to professional clerics, 
as if one needed for such studies as this 
certain special qualifications that are only 
found in the theologian and not in the rest of 
science, we should long ago have done with 
these "lives of Christ." The documents that 
give us our information about the origin of 
Christianity are of such a nature that in the 
present state of historical science no student 
would venture to use them for the purpose of 
compiling a biography of an historical Jesus. 
It is merely theological hypnotism that 
maintains the figure of such a Jesus in the 
mind of our time. 

The state of things in regard to these docu- 
ments is plain the moment we get clear of the 
artificial devices of critical theology. The 


Christ of whom the early Christian writings 
speak is not at all a man, but at the least a 
"superman," if not a son of God, a God-Man. 
In this Christ the divine is not merely united 
to the human, as liberal theologians have 
supposed ; it is not a disturbing current 
flowing into the smooth stream of human 
history, so that one has only to separate the 
divine from the human once more in order to 
obtain the purely historical elements. In 
Christ the divine is always most intimately 
one with the human. From the God-Man of 
the Church there is a straight line back, 
through the Epistles and Gospels of the New 
Testament, to the apocalypse of Daniel, in 
which the ecclesiastical conception of Christ 
makes its first appearance. But at every 
single point in this line Christ has super- 
human features ; he is never what critical 
theology would make him — a mere natural 
man, an historical individual. 

To consider first the Gospels, Christ is in 
the Fourth Gospel the creative Word of God, 
that was with God in the beginning, and was 
God, that became flesh and dwelt among 
men. The Gospel of Mark announces its 
story at once as the Gospel of Christ, the Son 
of God. Luke purposes to make a certain 


selection among the traditions at hand, in 
order to find a doctrinal ground for Theo- 
philus, for whom he is writing. As a result 
he begins with the announcement of the angel 
to Zachary in regard to the birth of John. 
He brings his Christ to birth in circumstances 
that are historically impossible, on the 
occasion of a census which certainly did not 
take place at the time he assigns to it, and 
which could not possibly affect Galilee, where 
Joseph and Mary are supposed to have lived.* 
He puts his birth in an impossible scene, 
under an open sky, amidst the song of angels. 
All this shows clearly enough that, when he 
talks of testing the Christian traditions, he 
has no idea whatever of historical criticism in 
the modern sense. Matthew lays stress on 
the virgin-birth of Christ. He makes the 
new-born child the centre of attention for the 
whole world and the object of a wide persecu- 
tion. And these stories of the birth set out 
the programme for his further narrative of 
Christ's history ; they give us the point of 
view from which he proceeds to tell the whole 
story down to the death, resurrection, and 

' B. Stade, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, vol. ii., p* 511* 


To look behind these evangelical narratives 
for the life of a natural historical human being 
would not occur to any thoughtful man to-day 
if it were not for the influence of the earlier 
Rationalistic theologians. Those theologians 
had inevitably to end in the search for an 
historical individual behind the Gospel narra- 
tives, because in this way they felt they could ^ 
best secure their position in face of the 
orthodox supernaturalism. Liberal theology 
seeks to recognise itself in primitive Chris- 
tianity. In accordance with its own religious 
conception, it regards Christianity as a theo- 
logical school, and so needs a schoolmaster, a 
religious teacher, whom it describes as the 
founder of the religion. But the struggle 
between liberal and orthodox theology has 
only an historical interest for the modern 
mind. It has no further importance in 
science, since science has learned to look 
upon the ideas of both parties as momentary 
currents in the broad stream of history. A 
religious teacher, the head of a theological 
school, as liberal theologians conceive Christ 
under the title of founder of the religion, 
ceases to be necessary for understanding 
Christianity in proportion as we recognise in 
it a great historical development of the whole 

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more vivid than the Christ-stories in their 
impression of personal reality, yet scientific 
research has definitely ascertained that there 
is no historical personality at the base of them. 
To take two instances that will be familiar to 
the general reader, the figures in the book of 
Ruth are very sharply defined and vivid, and 
the prophet Jonas has a perfect stamp of 
individuality. Yet there never was an his- 
torical Ruth or an historical Jonas as described 
in the story. Both narratives are entirely the 
outcome of religious poetry. They belong to 
a later Judaic age, and are intended to meet 
the increasing Chauvinism of the Jews with 
the ideas of humanity and internationalism. 
Hence both narratives are particularly instruc- 
tive in connection with the Gospel stories of 
Christ. The book of Ruth shows the real 
value, or valuelessness, of the genealogies 
which later Jewish literature occasionally 
inserts in its didactic stories. Without the 
least historical reflection it projects its heroine 
into the time of the Judges, and attaches to 
her Moabitic family-history a genealogical 
tree that leads in a direct line to King David. 
The Jonas story, on the other hand, is 
expressly given us as prophetic of the life 
of Christ, not only (according to the figures in 


the catacombs) in regard to the death and 
resurrection, but even in the matter of the life 
and teaching ; in the first and third Gospels 
the activity of the preacher to the Ninevites is 
put on a level with the preaching of penance 
by Christ to the Jews, the only difference 
being that the failure of Christ with the Jews 
is more tragical than the lot of Jonas, who 
had some success at Nineveh. If the Gospels 
themselves find a parallel for the story of 
Jesus in that of Jonas, why should we insist 
on reading an historical personality into the 
one while we regard the other unhesitatingly 
as pure romance? 

The case is even stronger when we find the'' 
theologians grounding their historical Jesus 
on the Epistles, especially those described as 
Pauline. Whether a single line of the letters 
contained in the New Testament was written 
by the Messianic travelling preacher whom 
we know from the Acts seems, for important 
reasons which we may discuss later, to be 
more than questionable. The obstinacy with 
which the critical school insists on ascribing 
Galatians, Romans, and Corinthians to Paul 
would soon cease if it were not for the fact that 
these Epistles give a certain support, it is 
thought, to the hypothesis that Jesus was 


historical. Critical theologians declare that 
they give this support, but it is really the 
reverse ; it is the historical Jesus that supports 
the traditional view of the Pauline Epistles, 
and is the chief obstacle to the impartial 
historical appreciation of them. For the 
moment we may at least say that, if critical 
theology were restricted in its biographical 
work to these Epistles, there would never have 
been any question in theology of attempting 
to write a life of Jesus. The Christ of the 
Pauline Epistles has far less individuality 
even than the Christ of the Gospels. He is 
described as the Spirit, the Son of God 
revealed in the Apostle, the second Adam, 
the heavenly man, the head of the community. 
All that we find of an historical character in 
regard to him are references to his death and 
resurrection. But the death of the Christ of 
the Epistles is not the natural termination of a 
human life ; it is something metaphysical, a 
drama enacted between heaven and earth. 
The resurrection, also, is taken entirely out of 
the sphere of earth, so that the question 
whether it means the restoration of one who 
was only apparently dead, or the revivification 
of a dead man, never comes within the range 
of the Epistles. It is an open question merely 


in what sense we are to take the many revela- 
tions of Christ mentioned in the Epistles as 
incidents that often accompanied the ecstatic 
phenomena in the life of the community. 

Further, wherever we find in the Pauline 
Epistles sayings and precepts that are 
described as " the words of the Lord " or 
"received from the Lord," such as the direc- 
tion in regard to the celebration of the 
Eucharist (i Cor. xi.), or the regulations in 
regard to matrimony (i Cor. vii.), these are 
canonical rules for which there is no parallel 
in the words of Christ in the Gospels, and 
that, in fact, often differ from the recorded 
sayings of Christ ; while general ethical com- 
mands, such as that of love as the fulfilment 
of the law, or love of one's enemy, or peace- 
making, or avoiding anxiety, love of money, 
etc., are not grounded on the words of Jesus 
at all, but prompted by the personal conscience 
of the writer of the Epistle. Thus precisely 
those ideas which Protestant theology claims 
as the peculiar province of its historical 
Jesus seem, in the Epistles, to be independent 
of Jesus, and to be a simple outpouring of the 
apostolic conscience ; while the rules of the 
Christian communal life, which the theolo- 
gians regard as later accretions, are explicitly 


quoted as commands of the Lord. Hence the 
Christ of the Pauline Epistles is rather an 
argument against the critical theologians than 
a proof of the historicity of Jesus which they 

But is there not a profane literature that 
seems to mention an historical Jesus in places? 
Even critical theologians are ceasing to find 
any support in these writings. The final 
result of the inquiries entered upon in this 
department with such high hopes may be 
summed up in the words of Hamlet: "The 
rest is silence." It is clear that none of the 
writers who mention Christ at the time when 
Christianity itself made its entry into history 
— ^from the beginning of the second century of 
our era, the age of Trajan — can be quoted as 
independent historical witnesses, because they 
have all derived their information from the 
Christian tradition itself. It is, therefore, 
quite superfluous to quote the one or two 
passages in Tacitus. Josephus alone, the 
Latinised Jew, could be taken into account as 
a witness to the historicity of Jesus ; and only 
that passage {AnL 20, 9) where he speaks of the 
brother of Jesus, who is called Christ, because 
the other passage (Ant. 18, iii. 3), where there 
is reference to the miracles and the great 


teaching of Jesus, is universally recognised as 
an interpolation by a later Christian age. But 
there are serious reasons for doubting the 
genuineness of even the former passage. 
Origen has frequently observed that Josephus 
was hostile to the Christian sect. How could 
a Jew, to whom (as to all his contemporaries) 
the claim of divinity by a Jesus must have 
seemed a blasphemy, and one, moreover, who, 
being half Roman, saw a kind of Messias in 
the emperor Domitian, have come to speak so 
impartially of a Jesus who was called the 
Christ? Josephus speaks with unmistakable 
disdain of all the Messianic claimants of his 
time as "impostors who, under the cloak of 
divine inspiration, incited the people to riot 
and fanaticism, and led them out into lonely 
spots where God would show them miracles 
as some proof of their forthcoming emancipa- 
tion."' Distinguished theologians such as 
Credner and Schiirer have totally denied 
the genuineness of this second passage in 

But even if the passage were admitted to 
be genuine, it would be no stronger than a 
spider's line, on which critical theology would 

^Jewish War, ii. 13, 4. 


find it hard to suspend a human form. There 
were so many pseudo-Christs in the time of 
Josephus, and far into the second century, 
that we have no more than a summary 
mention of many of them. There was a 
Judas of Galilee, a Theudas, an unnamed 
Egyptian, a Samaritan, and a Bar Kochba. 
There may very well have been a Jesus among 
them. Jesus was a very familiar name among 
the Jews — ^Joschua, Josua, the Saviour. We 
know of Jesus the son of Sirach, the author 
of a collection of sayings ; then a Jesus the 
son of Schiach, a high priest and favourite of 
Archelaus, the son of the great Herod ; and in 
Josephus we have a dozen men named " Jesus. " 
Are we to conclude from the possibility that 
Josephus speaks, in a more than doubtful 
passage, of a Jesus who was called Christ to 
the identity of this Jesus with the one whose 
biography our theologians desire to write ? 

It was reserved for Professor Henke to 
discover that the officials of the Roman 
Empire had exact information, even in Nero's 
time, about the Christians, and particularly 
about the founding of the sect by a Jew who 
was crucified in Palestine, because Tacitus 
did not rely, in his famous statement that the 
founder of the sect was put to death by Pontius 


Pilate under Tiberius {Annals^ xv. 44), on 
the Christian tradition, but " on the documents 
and acts in the imperial archives at Rome." 
The archives would have had to be rather 
extensive if they were to deal with every 
crucified Jew, as Josephus {Jewish War, 
u 5, 2) speaks of two thousand that Varus 
had crucified in connection with a revolt. 
Henke would also prove the historicity of Jesus 
by an appeal to a passage in Suetonius, in 
which it is stated that the emperor Claudius 
had expelled the Jews from Rome because 
Chrestos had excited a revolt. He says that, 
if Chrestos did not mean Christus, Suetonius 
would have written "a certain Chrestos," 
because in Latin the qualification would only 
be omitted in speaking of a generally known 
personage. Thus, according to Henke, the 
Biblical Christ was for Suetonius "a well- 
known personage"! His translation of the 
passage is hardly less remarkable. Suetonius 
writes of a persecution of the Jews under 
Claudius, on account of a revolt led by 
Chrestos. This is made to mean : Claudius 
drove the Christians out of Rome because 
they had become restive under the inspiration 
of Christ — who had been crucified some time 
previously in Palestine under Tiberius ! 


The name Christ was originally not a 
personal name at all, but, like the word 
Messias, of which it is a Latin-Greek transla- 
tion, it was the religious name for a certain 
point of belief. The stamp of individuality 
which the word has come to bear in the 
modern mind was only given to it by the 
Christian community ; even if an historical 
Jesus had assumed the name, we could only 
understand him in connection with the Chris- 
tian community. On this account there was 
no Christ independently of the belief of the 
Christians ; certainly there could be no such 
person for a Tacitus or Suetonius or any other 
Roman. A historical personality, of whom 
these writers might hear through sources 
independent of Christian tradition, would not 
be known to them as Christ or Messias, but 
by his personal name. Moreover, Chrestos, 
of whom Suetonius writes, is a real personal 
name. Hence a revolutionary Chrestos at 
Rome is quite intelligible in the ordinary 
historical sense. On the other hand, a revolu- 
tionary Messias, especially one who had been 
crucified in Judea, would have been entirely 
outside Suetonius's purview. 

It is especially interesting to see how 
Henke (who was entrusted by an important 



German Protestant organ with the task of 
saving the historicity of Jesus) explains the 
origin of Christianity from his Rationalistic 
standpoint, as the explanation is typical of 
liberal Christianity. He says : " I would ask 
readers who are unfamiliar with the work of 
writing history to form a picture of our own 
time analogous to that of the origin of Chris- 
tianity. It would come out somewhat as 
follows : — 

" In the Prussian * Galilee of the heathens ' 
{cf. Matt. iv. 15 with John i. 46; vii. 41, 52), 
in the beautiful district about Stalluponen, 
where the wolf and the fox still linger, in the 
notorious spot to which officials infected with 
liberalism were banished during the reaction 
fifty years ago, we will suppose that there was 
a small builder who earned a scanty living by 
making huts for the peasants and artizans. 
His son, a man of strong religious feeling, 
is stimulated by an older cousin, who is 
preaching penance among the pious folk, to 
reflect on the religious condition of the nation. 
At length he becomes conscious that God has 
imposed on him the task of introducing a real 
religion in the place of a superficial eccle- 
siasticism. One day the cousin crosses the 
Russian frontier, expresses himself too freely 



on the morals of the court at St. Petersburg, 
is transported to Siberia, and £alls a victim 
to the malice of the overseer. His young 
relative now feels that the time has come to 
commence his work. He moves about in the 
extreme east of Prussia, holds meetings, and 
attaches a dozen followers more closely 
to his person — a few fishermen, a retired 
excise officer, and others. Before a year 
is out the matter goes a little too far 
for the Consistory. The Messias ventures 
to attend a festival at Koenigsberg, is 
arrested at the requisition of the Con- 
sistory, and in some way or other ends 
his life at Koenigsberg. His immediate 
followers disperse, as the majority have 
already done. Some of them, however, 
notably the fishermen and a brother of the 
dead leader, who had at first, like his other 
relatives, regarded the proceedings of the 
Messias as so much eccentricity, but has been 
converted, make their way to Koenigsberg. 
In this centre of intellectual activity, the birth- 
place of the Critique of Pure Reason — and of 
a good deal of narrow-minded priggishness — 
they succeed in establishing a congregation of 
Messiahists, the members of which are, with 
few exceptions, artisans, labourers, fishermen, 


serving-girls, etc. The active intercommuni- 
cation of our time soon spreads the new faith 
to other towns of Europe, a travelling cloth- 
maker, a convert from the orthodox body and 
a very strong personality, taking a con- 
spicuous share in the work. But it is not 
until thirty years afterwards that a second 
large congregation makes its appearance in 
New York, which has been established by 
apostles from East Prussia. 

'' I need not follow the parallel any farther. 
It is not my task to show how a world-moving 
power was developed out of this tiny local 
agitation. We have only to realise how 
much of the whole agitation would find 
publicity in our own time. The Press, and 
perhaps a writer here and there, would notice 
the execution of the cousin in Russia, because 
Russian despotism is a frequent matter of 
comment in the Press, and the cousin has 
attacked the king himself, as Philo and 
Josephus speak of John the Baptist assailing 
the sober Antipas. But all that happens to 
the Messias might remain utterly unnoticed. 
A police notice in some periodical and the 
police and court documents at Konigsberg 
would probably be the only printed or written 
references to the affair. Why should the 


Press spare time and space for such unimpor- 
tant events — religious eccentricities it would 
deem them — when it has large public questions 
of industry, politics, etc., to deal with every 
day ? It is only when the fanatical populace 
of New York makes a murderous attack on 
the Messianic community there, thirty or 
forty years afterwards,, because, like the 
of&cials, the people take them to be Anarchists 
bent on assassination, and this event leads an 
historian of the time to inquire who these 
much calumniated men really are — it is only 
then that we may come to find a literary 
notice of the sect, such as Tacitus gives of the 
Christians when he is describing the Neronian 

It would be quite intelligible if orthodox 
German theology had regarded this passage 
as a parody of the origin of Christianity. 
Instead of this we find their chief journals 
expressing their gratitude to the author for 
his helpful work, and it was almost farcical to 
see how the two opposite schools of theology 
stood together in the dogma of the historicity 
of Jesus without the least perception that the 
Jesus whose historical reality is passionately 
affirmed by the one school is just as energeti- 
cally rejected as unhistorical by the other. 


A Son of God, Lord of the World, born of a 
virgin, and rising again after death, and the 
son of a small builder with revolutionary 
notions, are two totally different beings. If 
one was the historical Jesus, the other certainly 
was not. 

The real question of the historicity of Jesus 
is not merely whether there ever was a Jesus 
among the numerous claimants of a Messiah- 
ship in Judea, but whether we are to recognise 
the historical character of this Jesus in the 
Gospels, and whether he is to be regarded as 
the founder of Christianity. If the whole of 
the older Church, including the New Testa- 
ment literature, entirely rejects the notion of a 
human founder of the religion, how can our 
theologians venture to suggest that this 
literature really wanted to describe such a 
human founder to its readers, though it did so 
very clumsily and ineffectively ? If there had 
been a Christ-like Jesus among the leading 
spirits of the new religion, he could not have 
announced his Christship otherwise than by 
identifying himself entirely with the Christian 
community. He might very well have said — 
even as Christ : " You shall call no man 
master on earth " {Matt, xxiii. 9) ; but he 
could never have said, without radically 


violating the vital principle of Christship : 
" You have one master, and that is I, Christ " ! 
If Christ had to exclude earthly, human 
mastership from the community, he could 
only mean by the one master the living 
Messianic consciousness itself. 

If liberal theology had further developed 
the ideas of its Tubingen master, it would 
never have lost itself in the labyrinth of these 
efforts to write a life of Christ. Ferdinand 
Baur studies Christianity essentially from a 
Christian point of view. He has one foot in 
the rationalistic sphere, conceiving Chris- 
tianity as a theological school, and the 
early Christians as disciples or pupils of a 
master of the school. But he says just as 
explicitly {Church History^ i. 40) that it is 
not so much the teaching of the master as the 
faith of the disciples in the resurrection, or 
the primitive Christian Messiahism, that 
influences the whole history of Christianity. 
A thorough pupil of Hegel, he knows nothing 
of that cult of the individual which liberal 
theologians encourage with their historical 
Jesus. Christianity is, in his view, essentially 
an evolutionary form of the religious idea, the 
religious universalism in which Messianic 
Judaism coincides with the tendencies of 


Roman politics and the ideas of Greek philo- 
sophy. He says (Church History, \. 5) : — 

Tlie main point is that Christianity could not be 
the general form of religious consciousness which 
tt is, if the whole history of the world down to the 
time of Christianity, the general spiritual culture that 
wascoRimunicated to allmen through theUreeks, the 
all-embracing domination of the Romans, with all 
its political institutions and the general civilisation 
grounded on them, had not broken down the limits 
of national consciousness, and abolished so much 
that held the nations aloof from each other, not 
only externally, but much more internally. The 
Christian universalism could never have penetrated 
into the general consciousness of the nations if the 
way had not been prepared for it by political 
universalism. It is essentially the same general 
form of consciousness as that to which the develop- 
ment of humanity had advanced at the period of the 
appearance of Christianity. 

If Christianity is, from the theological point 
of view, only the religious synthesis of the 
factors that control the historical development 
of the time, what has scientific history to 
do with an individual Jesus ? Even if we 
had literary testimony to him, and his 
existence was ever so lirmly established, he 
would tiirow no light on the historical neces- 
sity of Christianity. As an individual he 
^to be ranged in the historical 
-m which Christianity pro- 
''<tl6i,.Ult6. any other single 


individual, a co-worker with many others in 
the great constructive work of the time, but 
in no sense the single creator of a design or 
the leading builder in its realisation. 

Any man who has appreciated the idea of 
historical development will find it impossible 
to arrange the periods of the world's history 
according to the ecclesiastical calendar. He 
will smile at the naive conception of ushering 
in the Christian era with a ring of the bell, as 
it were, at a precise moment. For him the 
cult of certain years, which still often passes 
for " religious instruction," will have no 
meaning. Any man who has learned to take 
the sociological point of view, and appreciates 
all the transitions, modifications, and retro- 
gressions that have to be taken into account 
in the rise of new social forms, will look upon 
the notion that a suddenly converted Paul 
permeated Asia Minor and the Balkan Pen- 
insula, within the space of twenty years, with 
the gospel of a Christ that had hitherto been 
quite unknown there, and set up numbers of 
Christian institutions there, as a miracle beside 
which all the others related in ecclesiastical 
history are mere child's play. 

Hence we must study the factors that have 
influenced the rise of Christianity very 


differently from what has been done hitherto, 
with the individualist theoiy of history. The 
history of the preparation for Christianity is 
itself an integral part of the system, just as 
the embryonic development of the individual 
must be accounted a real part of his history 
from the biological point of view. The older 
Fathers of the Church, who made Christ live 
in history ages before his individual birth, 
proceeded, in their theological fashion, more 
correctly than their modern successors, who 
fancy they can indicate the rise of Christianity 
to a second of time. The value of either 
religious or ethical ideas is far higher when 
they are conceived as a constructive product 
of the organic development of a certain 
culture than when, as is done in the indi- 
vidualistic theory of history, they are regarded 
as the personal contribution of a single genius. 

^ Chapter II. 


The economic complexion of the Roman 
Empire is, in the main, that of an agrarian 
capitalism, with a tendency to pass from what 
was originally a purely agrarian to a purely 
capitalistic period. When the city-state was 
substituted for the older domestic tribes in the 
constitution that is ascribed to Servius Tullius, 
the chief economic stress, and so the centre of 
/ political power, still lay in private property ; 
while the artisans at Rome were condemned 


to political impotence as belonging to the 
latter class. Differently from the fairly con- 
stant urban tribes, the number of those in the 
rural districts rose to thirty-one from the fifth 
to the third century ; and within the ranks of 
these peasant tribes the differentiation set in 
that made land-ownership the most powerful 
factor controlling the economic development 
of Rome. At each fresh annexation Rome 
inoculates the conquered territory with its own 

33 D 


economic tendency. The life of the metro- 
politan city beats in the newly-founded urban 
colonies ; and while a part of the annexed 
land is handed over to the impoverished 
peasantry, another part is reserved to the 
State as ager publicusj to become the real 
instrument of the capitalistic growth of the 
Roman nobility. The older policy of the 
commercial system had favoured the peasants, 
so that a merchants' guild that was established 
in 495* never prospered, but the trade with 
Greece, which exchanged its industrial products 
for Roman corn, put the political power more 
and more exclusively into the hands of the 
corn-growing owners of large estates. 

The small peasant is, naturally, not in a position 
to exchange his small surplus of corn with foreign 
merchants for expensive Greek wares. He has to 
content himself with the inferior products of Roman 
industry. It is only the nobles with the large 
estates that can deal directly with the foreign 
traders, and pass on to them their large supplies 
of corn." 

Thus mobile capital at Rome was not 
dissociated from immobile as an independent 
power, with the effect of counterbalancing a 

' Drumann, Die Atheiter und Kommuntsten in Griechen- 
land und Rom^ p. 27a Livy ii. 27. 

' Karl Hoffmeister : Die mtirOuchaftliche Entwickelut^ 
Roms, p. 27. 



one-sided agrarian development. It remains 
bound up with land-ownership, strengthening 
its power and helping to accelerate its concen- 
tration. The Roman noble becomes a relent- 
less exploiter of the poor peasant. He is a 
speculator on a grand scale, and menaces the 
State, which has to buy back at a high price 
the corn his producers have sent abroad, with 
the most stringent famine; in this way he 
stimulates the demand on the foreign market 
and increases immeasurably the gains of the 
inland producers, until the annexation of 
Sicily changes the situation, and the flood of 
cheap Sicilian corn forces Roman capital to 
convert corn-land into pasture and seek fresh 
subjects of exploitation. This does not bring 
any improvement to the peasant, however, 
whose fate is sealed whether the price of corn 
is low or high. Right accommodates itself 
entirely to might; it applies to private life 
the fundamental principles of political annexa- 
tion. Gain is booty ; not a claim to the out- 
come of labour, but occupation, appropriation 
of an enemy's goods, as Gaius, the jurist of 
the Antonine age, defines the Roman concep- 
tion of property, in agreement with all the 
classical authorities of his time. Thus every- 
thing tends in the direction of the Gospel 


saying: "To him that hath shall be given." 
There is no political and social, and certainly 
no religious or ethical, resistance to the evils 
of this great concentration of capital. The 
capitalistic accumulation on an agrarian basis 
has the whole power of the State at its disposal 
at Rome — the army, the fleet, the law, and the 
government. Official positions are sources of 
profit ; they fall to those who are in a position 
to drive the less wealthy out of the field, and 
each fresh gain spurs them to fresh enter- 
prises in order to retain the source of the 
wealth within the family. 

HofFmeister thus describes the economic 
position of Rome about two centuries before 
Christ : — 

Peace and tranquillity have hardly been restored 
after the exhausting struggles when capital begins 
to stir itself. The war has laid waste large tracts 
of country. They are used as before to establish 
new colonies of peasants. But capital sees in the 
rich Sicilian corn-fields a new and very profitable 
department, especially when the Carthaginian system 
is taken over. The State in turn sees in the pro- 
vincials and their land a great alleviation of its tasks, 
and begins its fiscal method by first imposing on the 
conquered a natural tax, which is paid chiefly in 
corn, and is mainly set up for the purpose of feeding 
the army without cost in the future. And as there 
is always some surplus of the corn raised, it directs 
the sediles to sell it as cheaply as possible in the 
metropolis, because the population of Rome 


especially the proletariat, has long complained of 
the high price of corn, which ran up to a desperate 
figure during the war with Hannibal on account of 
the devastation of the corn-fields. Then, in order 
that capital may squeeze all it can out of the 
annexed province, the State does not raise its 
taxes directly, but farms out the work of gathering 
them to the highest bidders. The latter have to 
give a cautio realis for the result, a new impulse to 

capitalistic investment in land So the great 

serpent that is to strangle the finest strength of 
Rome, its peasantry, brings its coils closer and 
closer together.* 

The remedies that were applied to this 
malady of the social organism were bound to 
fail. The two Gracchi fully recognise the 
extent and the depth of the evil, and are, in 
their way, full of a plan of salvation. It is 
afterwards written in the Gospel {Matt, viii. 
20) : " The foxes have holes and the birds of 
the heavens have their nests, but the Son of 
Man has nowhere to lay his head." Just in 
the same way Tiberius Gracchus appeals to 
the people with the plaint : " The wild beast 
has its cavern and its den : every one of them 
has its place of refuge. But those who are 
called the lords of the earth have nothing left 
but light and sunshine. There is not a stone 
that they can call their own and lay their 

' Op, city p. 46. 


weary head to rest on."* But every effort I 

to reform the situation in the Roman world 4 

completely failed. The restoration of the 
Licino-Sextinian laws, which forbade any 
citizen to hold as hereditary property more than 


500 acres of the common land, was frustrated 
by the cupidity of the great landowners, which 
had made the passage of them illusory from 1 

the start. The attempt of Caius Gracchus to 
form the money-changers and tax-farmers into 
a special organisation and free them from the 
jurisdiction of the nobles, so as to raise up a 
powerful antagonist to the large landowner in . 

the person of the financier, really only created 1 

a new coalition of interests for common resist- 
ance to the substance of the reforms — the 
rehabilitation of a strong peasantry. In a few 
decades the new colonies of peasants were 
again expropriated, after the hereditary farms 
had been converted into free and inalienable 
property. The one thing that the brothers 
Gracchi really succeeded in securing — the 
legal sale of corn to citizens at a lower than 
the normal price — is found to be most ' 

mischievous in view of later developments. 4 

It converts the metropolis into an insatiable 

' Plutarch's Lives: Tiberius Gracchus, c. 9. 


Stomachy swallowing up the life of the 
provinces and forming a new and powerful 
centre of attraction for the unemployed and 
shiftless proletariat, of which the metropolis 
ought to have been relieved by the founding 
of new colonies. Drumann sums up the 
economic development in these words : — 

The nobles were not content with being in 
almost exclusive possession of the State lands and 
monoi>plising the higher positions in the city and* 
the army ; they were the capitalists as well as the 
* commanders. The city magistracy was the bridge 
by means of which they passed into the provinces 
for the purpose of exploiting the producers and 
cheating the treasury. Thus they came to possess 
large fortunes, by means of which they were able to 
exploit the poverty of their fellow-citizens. The 
small landowners sold their property to rich neigh- 
bours because they were in debt to them and could 
not pay ; others had their land torn from them by 
force or by threats. They then maintained them- 
selves as farmers or labourers ; and even this was 
not easy, because the slaves, who were not usually 
needed for war purposes, were preferred to free 
workers. ' 

Mommsen observes that shortly after the time 
of Gracchus the farmers of a province, almost 
all Roman speculators, possessed on an 
average 100,000 hectares of arable land each." 
We can quite understand, when Cicero tells us 

' Op, city p. 152. * Roman History ^ ii. 76. 


that Julius Philippus (104 B.C.), in pressing 
for an agrarian law, said in a speech that 
there were not more than 2,000 citizens in 
Rome who owned land,' or when we find half 
of the African province in the possession of 
six owners of latifundia in the time of 
Augustus. ' 

Thus we get the sharp contrast of rich and 
poor that fiends its typical expression in the 
Gospel parables. Lucian, in his conversation 
with a friend, ridicules the nouveau riche at 
Rome who flaunts his purple folds in the eyes 
of people. In these circumstances one would 
find, often enough, cases of the younger son 
wandering out into the world with his share of 
the heritage and dissipating it, and sinking to 
the level of the labourer in the course of time, 
until he finds it diflicult even to earn his 
coarse bread among the swineherds of the 
great corn-lords, and then l^ethinks himself 
how many labourers find decent work and 
sustenance on his father's property. The 
Gospel parables relating to taxes also seem 
to find a more suitable frame in the social 
conditions of Rome than in those of Palestine. 
At all events, it would be well to submit some 

' De OfficiiSf iL 21. 

' Hoffmeister, op. cit,^ p. 75. 


of these points to a serious critical inquiry. 
In Palestine, and especially in Galilee, we 
should hardly expect to find tax-gatherers of 
this sort. Max Weber says : — 

Up to the beginning of the Empire the tendency 
of Rome's development was to leave the dependent 
populations of the realm a certain fiscal autonomy, 
and to fix the tribute for the whole ; just as the 
constitutions of Gaul due to Augustus led to the 
raising of such a tribute on the province, not at all 
in the sense of a distribution of the taxation among 
the taxable individuals, but merely a distribution 
among communities and races/ 

With Augustus begins the attempt to 
substitute the direct taxation, described in 
Matt. (xvii. 24) as customary at Capharnaum, 
for the yearly contribution of communities ; 
and the census of Quirinus mentioned in the 
New Testament must be taken in connection 
with this form of taxation. 

However, this attempt, which caused a 
revolution in Judea, was only brought to 
success under Diocletian and Constantine. 
Palestine had received explicit guarantees of 
self-government from Casar and recognition 
from the Senate, and the northern part of the 
country, which is, in the main, the scene of 
the Synoptic Gospels, could not possibly be 

' Romische Agrargeschichte, p. 185. 


affected by the census,' as this part formed 
an independent principality under Antipas. 
Josephus says expressly : " When the king- 
dom of Archelaus was reduced to a province, 
his brothers, Philip and Herod with the 
surname Antipas, continued to hold the 
position of princes.'*' The system of direct 
taxation was so little known in Palestine that, 
in order to determine roughly the number of 
the population before the Jewish war, they 
had to rely on the number of Paschal lambs 
sacrificed at Jerusalem. ^ A tax-gatherer 
named Johannes, who is mentioned by 
Josephus, lived in Cassarea by the sea, the 
centre of the Roman administration, a town 
that was explicitly forbidden to the Jews by 
Nero. If the fiscal system had been organised 
in such a way in Palestine as the Gospel 
describes, the summary method of determining 
the population given by Josephus would be 
quite unintelligible. Hence, down to 66 a.d. 
there cannot possibly have been taxation 
registers in Palestine, least of all in Galilee, 
though these would be inevitable in a system 
of direct taxation with tax-gatherers living in 
the district. 

' Stade, IsraeliHsche Geschichte, ii. 511. 

* Jewish Wars, iL 9, i. s Josephus, vi. la 


On the other hand, if there had been a 
Roman fiscal system in Palestine, the pro- 
cedure would have been much easier than that 
recorded by Josephus. His own words show 
how the Roman administration carefully con- 
sidered the religious views of the Jews in 
fiscal questions. Hence, in Palestine there 
was no need whatever for the bodies of tax- 
gatherers that are mentioned in the Gospels. 
They were necessary at Rome and in Italy. 
There, according to Cicero, they belonged to 
the class which was hated by their fellows on 
account of their occupation.^ We can thus 
understand the feeling of the Jews in regard 
to them without needing to form a picture of 
the administration of Palestine that does not 
correspond to the reality. 

Finally, the state of the law in the Roman 
Empire also enables us to understand the 
obscure background of the economic life in the 
Gospels. For the creditor to sell the debtor 
with his wife and family, and for the debtor to 
lie in jail until he pays the last farthing, was 
not Jewish but Roman law. In Palestine the 
i Jewish law of debt was followed, and Josephus 

describes this from the practice of his time as 

■ Ve Offkiis, i. 42. 


a law of humanity and mercy, in complete 
contrast to the Roman law : — 

Any man who has borrowed money or fruit shall, 
if his condition improves through God's goodness, 
promptly discharge his debt to his creditors, and 
be able to borrow it once more if he chance to need 
it. But if the debtor is unable to return it, he shall 
not be permitted, without taking judgment, to 
enter the house and take away the security. If.the 
giver of the security has means, the creditor shall 
retain the security until the loan is returned ; but 
if he is poor the creditor shall return the security to 
him, especially if it is a bed-covering. For God 
himself is merciful to the poor. The mill, and all 
that pertains to it, must not be taken in pledge, so 
that the poor man may not be prevented from pre- 
paring his food, and so fall into greater want.' 

On the basis of such a law of debt and security 
it would be impossible to have a state of 
distress and poverty on the part of debtors 
like that described in the Gospels. It is a 
purely Roman situation that we find there. 

There were at all times free men and 
Roman citizens who were ground down by 
this development of agrarian capital. What 
would be the situation of this free proletariat 
in comparison with the lot of the great masses 
of human beings who, as slaves, made up the 
living inventory of the large estates, or led, 
a subterraneous life in the mines? The 

' Antiguities, iv. 8, i6. 



Spread of slavery made it more and more 
difficult for the free worker to earn his scanty 
living as a day-labourer. All that was left 
for him was the distribution of corn or the 
possibility of getting himself included among 
the clients of some distinguished Roman, and 
obtaining food in reward of his obsequious 
following in the train of the master. In that 
way many a man found his daily bread who 
said to himself : " To dig I am not able ; to 
beg I am ashamed.'' On the other hand, the 
lot of the slaves, whose number went up 
enormously after the second Punic war, w^ 
very bad. One of the authorities thus 
describes it : — 

Their treatment was as bad as can be imagined. 
Where the ground was still cultivated they lived in 
herds under the control of d. slave-master. Their 
dwelling was the well-known casema of the 
workers, a half-subterranean structure with a 
number of narrow windows, which were raised 
high enough from the ground to escape being 
reached with the hand. Loaded with fetters, 
branded on brow and limbs, they went out in the 
morning to their severe labours, and were com- 
pelled to maintain it until the sun went down. 
"The slave must either work or sleep," said the 
* elder Cato, the Roman model-employer of his time. 
Thore were no days of rest or holiday for the poor 
wretches. What did it matter if a score or two 
succumbed in the unhealthy dwelling, with insuffi- 
cient food or clothing? The abounding slave 


markets offered a fresh supply at a price that was 
cheaper than the cost of proper food.' * 

They included not only barbarian soldiers, 
who were condemned to that fate by the hard 
laws of war^ but also men and women who 
had shared in the intellectual life of the time, 
peasants who had been ejected from their 
homes without a pretence of judgment and 
fettered to the chain of slaves. 

It is in this deplorable condition of human 
life in the slave-world that we find the begin-/ 
ning of an upward movement that embodies 
itself at last in a new social culture, thef 
Christian system. At the close of the Roman * 
Republic the slaves formed a nation within a 
nation. We can form some idea of their 
numbers when we learn that 10,000 slaves 
were often sold in one day at the Delic slave- 
market, one of the largest in the second 
century B.C." We are told that the freedman 
G. Cascilius left 4,116 slaves at his death in 
the first century of the Christian era. In the 
year 100 the king of Bithynia declares that he 
is unable to send the required contribution, 
as the State officials have shipped off all the 

' Karl Bucher, Die Aufstdnde der unfreien Atheiter, 
143-129 B.C. 
' Mommsen, i. 75. 


f V 



/able-bodied men as slaves.' These slaves 
* were drawn together by a common instinct — a 
feeling of hatred against a social order that 
; gave rich and luxurious idleness power over the 
i life and strength of countless thousands. This 
i feeling swept away all limits of nationality. 
I The barbarians were just the men to form a 
'. solid core for a revolutionary propaganda, to 
I found the sense of international brotherhood 
' on their common misery and give it practical 

^ We find, therefore, the beginnings of orga- 
nised resistance, first to particular exploiters, 
• and then to the whole system. After a 
number of lesser revolts in the preceding 
centuries there was a great outbreak in 
Sicily (143 B.C.) in the fertile country round 
the modern Castrogiovanni (formerly Enna), 
where "the misery of the slave's life seems to 
have been concentrated in its worst form."* 
Eunus, a Syrian, was the leader of the 
maddened slaves, and he erected a slave- 
kingdom, which lasted ten years and spread 
over the whole island. According to the 
chief reference to this outbreak in the frag- 
ments of Diodorus nearly the whole island 

' Mommsen, ii. 74. 

' Karl BUcher, ip. ctt, p. 51. 


became subject to the slave-king, who had the 
adroitness to choose a well-travelled Greek, 
Achaios, as his chief counsellor. The move- 
ment that centred about the prophet of Enna 
even spread to Italy. Tiberius Gracchus 
points out frequently in his speeches how the 
frightful war in Sicily, with all its perils and 
defeats, was the inevitable result of the perni- 
cious system that was to be found in Italy 
also among the swarms of barbaric slaves.* ^ 
The part that was played by the cross in this 
revolt of the slaves may be learned from the 
record that L. Calpurnius Piso, consul for the 
year 133, who was entrusted with the charge 
of suppressing the revolt, had all the prisoners 
crucified after the storming of Messana. More- ^ 
over, the religious background of the move- 
ment is so unmistakable that Biicher closes 
his account of it with the following words : — 

However much we may or may not be disposed 
to accept these religious influences, it is at least 
undeniable that they must be regarded as a mighty 
lever in these, as in numbers of later popular move- 
ments for redemption from human misery and 
degradation. Just as the religious socialism of the 
Anabaptists is not an isolated phenomenon, but a ^ 
link in a great chain, so Eunus was not the last of 
his kind. The heroes of the second Sicilian slave- 
rising (104-99), which seemed to follow the lines of 

' Karl Biicher, p. 72. 


the earlier one down to the smallest details, appeal 
also to the superstition of the masses. Even the 
strong figure of Spartacus was haloed, in the eyes 
of his followers, by the dim light of religious 

Biicher thinks it not impossible that the 
Messianic ideas of the Jews, perhaps in com- 
bination with certain Neo-Persian notions, 
found a concrete expression in the prophet 
* Eunus. 

Among the followers of the lyrical prophet- 
king of Sicily a shepherd-slave from the 
Tauros mountains, the home of the later 
Apostle Paul, had played a conspicuous part, 
and had kept the position of a military com- 
mander to the end. It appears that in this 
wild, mountainous region, the home of the 
Cilician bandits, there was a specially favour- 
able soil for a revolutionary gospel of human 
freedom and independence. The first impulse 
to a movement that penetrated into the 
interior of Asia Minor, "preaching to the 
/captives that they be set free," came from the 
west side of the peninsula, the ancient 
Pergamos, where the Apocalyptic writer of 
the New Testament places the chair of Satan. 
Here, in 133 B.C., Aristonicos, the natural son 

* op, city p. 80. 





of the last king of Pergamos, had raised a 
protest against the will of Attalus III., by 
which he had made over his country and 
treasures to the Romans. When the pre- 
tender to the throne, who had quickly 
mastered the coast- district as far as 
Caria, was driven by the Ephesians into 
the interior of Asia Minor, he gathered a 
great army of slaves, and with their aid 
founded a sun-state, Heliopolis, on a basis of 
liberty and equality.' As in the rising of 
Eunus in Sicily, so here, as the name Helio- 
polis indicates. Oriental religious ideas were 
the vehicle of the socialistic and communistic 
tendencies. When it is recorded afterwards 
in the Acts of the Apostles (xvi. 14) that the 
companions of the Apostle met at Philippi a 
woman of Thyatira, named Lydia, a purple- 
dyer, who had taken them at once into her 
house, we have some light thrown on the 
rapid conversion from the fact that Thyatira 
was one of the towns that had been stormed 
and taken by the vigorous armies of the 
Heliopolitans. In view of the state of things 
at the time the seed thus planted in the hearts 
of the lower classes of the population would 

' Bucher, p. 105. 


inevitably ripen into Utopian or Millennial 
ideas, with a pure ethical over-current and 
a radical communistic under-current. The 
Apocalypse of John mentions Thyatira as one 
of the towns which, like Pergamos, reject the 
servants of the Lord, practising whoredom 
and sacrificing to the gods. Seed of this kind 
does not die, even in centuries, but at length 
finds the soil that will afford it nourishment. 
Biicher says of Aristonicos, who ended his 
^ dream of a sun-state as a captive at Rome in 
129: "He grasped the drift of the time, the 
agitation that was stirring all minds from the 
Capitoline Hill and the heights of Euna to 
; the ridges of Tauros." 

The last slave-rising, the most famous and 

considerable that Rome ever had to meet, 

took place in the year 72 B.C., and brought 

^50,000 slaves into the field under the 

k command of the heroic Spartacus. It only 

shows that all the blood poured out on the 

cross at the time, as thousands of slaves 

expiated their belief in a day of liberty and 

justice, was not enough to extinguish the fire 

• that glowed in the subterraneous regions of 

^ the Roman world. Social reform on a large 

scale was a pressing, world-wide need, and, 


^ as always happens, the economic development 


had itself prepared the ground for the inaugu- 
ration of a new order of things. Agrarian 
capitalism had in its own interest begun to 
cultivate its farms by a half-free, though 
really fettered, generation of peasants instead 
of pure slaves, for the purpose of obtaining 
greater profit from the soil. It is recognised 
by all the authorities on the subject — I need 
only name Kowalesky {Die cekonomische 
Entwickelung Europas), G. Adler (SoziaU 
reform im Alterthum)^ and Max Weber 
{Romische Agrargeschichte) — that in this new 
form of colony we have the main lines of the 
industrial structure of the Christian Middle 
Ages. Hence we find references to it even in 
the Gospels. 

Weber describes the position of the coloni 
during the imperial period in the following 
manner : The owner's manager or ordinator 
has under him a number of coloniy though 
besides these there is a family of slaves living 
on the estate under the authority of the 
manager. The coloni are independent 
hereditary cultivators, living on the estate, 
holding a position about midway between 
small peasants and day-labourers. The 
owner has police control of the colonic and is 
at liberty to apply torture. In virtue of this 


police power the owners at times thrust their 
underlings into prison as well as the slaves. 
The manager {condtictor) was generally a 
slave, and there were many complaints of the 
brutality of these officials. In the early years 
of the Empire the oppressed coloni had no 
appeal beyond the estate, but in later years 
they were allowed to appeal to the ordinary 
courts. But the whole structure of the colo- 
natus grew inevitably out of the economy of 
the latifundia. It enabled the wealthy Roman 
to enjoy the life of the town far away from his 
estates, and at length proved to be the only 
method of profitably cultivating the otherwise 
neglected soil. 

Thus we get the picture of the higher slave 
{Matt. xxiv. 45), who has been set over the 
others by the master, and at one time gives 
them food in season, at another begins to beat 
them and riot with the drunkards, because he 
believes that the master will not return. 
Again we hear {Matt. xxv. 14) of the master 
who went across the country and abandoned 
his property to the slaves ; or of the owner 
of a vineyard {Mark xii. i) who entrusts his 
vineyard to the slaves to cultivate, and then 

demands an account of them ; or of the man 


who yearns for a true and faithful manager 


{Luke xii. 42). It agrees entirely with the 

passage in Matthew about the master who j 

planted a vineyard, made a fence about it, 

dug a pit in it, built a tower, and, handing it 

over to the workers, went into a far country, 

when Max Weber says : — 

All the large estates had their wine-pits and oil- 
presses The making of wine and oil, as Cato 

describes it, is more or less at the domestic stage. 

The absolutism of the owners went to such a 

length that they became mere capitalists dwelling 

constantly in the metropolis, consuming their ' 

incomes and rarely visiting their estates.' 

Besides these half-free colonic who are in 
places the connecting link in the chain of ^ 

development of the new Germanic order, the 
Roman Empire had a third social stratum, 
and this became very powerful in the imperial 
period. This was the proletariate of the 
towns, of which we have a lively picture in 
Pohlmann's history of ancient Communism 
and Socialism (vol. ii.). 

It is impossible to follow this account 
without realising at each step the resemblance 
of current ideas among this Roman prole- 1 

tariate to those of the older Messiahism. ^ 
Everything in both material and spiritual life 
points to a coming age when glad tidings will 

' Op, cit., p. 23a 


be announced to the poor. The writers who 
represent the educated proletariate of the time 
— ^Juvenal, Martial, and Horace — express their 
feelings in bitter ^satires, declaring that at 
capitalistic Rome a man is worth only as 

9tnuch as he possesses, and that the poor are 

i everywhere despised. 

It is [says Pohlmann] almost impossible to 

appreciate the flood of democratic resentment that 

fwas pent up in these men. The incredible anarchy 

that Rome had got into in the revolutionary period 

is really the work of a proletariate that fed on the 

revolution, not only metaphorically, but literally. 

. Poverty became a powerful force in political and 

' social life ; and as such it outlived the Republic, 

and was a constant source of anxiety even to the 

absolutist regime of the Caesars. 

Yet there was a proud consciousness of 
^internal freedom in these ''poor" citizens. 
Martial, for instance, sings thus of true 
freedom : — 

To trivial baubles of the hour 
* Thyself no longer bind, 

Feel thou art great and fortunate 
« In gifts of heart and mind : 
Then, truly, good friend Maximus, 
Thou hast won freedom's worth ; 
Then art thou lifted higher 
Than any prince of earth. 

That is the voice of the Gospel, warning men 
not to lay up earthly treasures in the service 
of Mammon, and not to suffer the loss of their 


own soul even to gain the whole world. It is 
a proletariate that would hold its head up. If 
fasting is its daily lot, yet the brave man will 
not bear a long face before the world, as the 
hypocrites do, to let his fasting be known. 
Martial warns his friend against vanity in 
suffering : — 

He sorrows not who in the eyes of men 
Seeks to draw profit from his pain. 
A real grief shuns the intrusive gaze, 
And mourns, dear Gallia, in its solitude. 

But even in this stratum of the people we find 
the faith in a Utopia that lifts them above the 
sad reality. This faith is at first, especially 
in the more educated circles, directed to a 
bygone age, a Rousseauic belief in the bliss 
of humanity's first years. However, the mind 
gathers strength and inspiration from the 
legend of the past, and a standard with which 
it can measure the present. The Saturnian 
age is depicted in the most glowing colours, 
as we find in Ovid's Metamorphoses; and the 
festival of the Saturnalia, which was cele- v 
brated once a year, gave the slave a glimpse of 
what the world would be like if men would 
join as brothers in the enjoyment of the earth 
and its gifts. Even Seneca, the philosophic^ 
parvenu^ speaks with zeal of the primitive 
communism of the golden age, '' when a man 


cared for his neighbour as for himself, whereas 
now — in the age of private property — the 

^ sharp sting of want robs a man of sleep," 
Thus the Roman society is just at the point 
when we may expect something new to issue 
from its depths. For this it needed no 
impulse from without ; its internal forces, 
destructive as well as constructive, sufficed for 
the work. These forces as yet lie deep under- 
ground. As Pohlmann writes at the close of 

* his book : — 

Willie ideas of social betterment degenerated into 
idle play in the suffocating atmosphere of absolu- 
tism and plutocracy ; while Plato's Republic was 
cherished in the boudoirs of Roman ladies as a 

* gospel of free love, gratifying their voluptuous 
« craving for sensation and condoning their vicious 

freedom ; there had long been proceeding in the 

,^lower strata of the Roman population a movement 

' that was inspired by an absolute conviction of the 

existence of some way by which men might pass 

( from this vale of tears to the isles of the blest. In 

* this we have a revival of the old dream of the 
primitive happiness of mankind, the lost paradise 

4f that was one day to be regained. The belief in the 
divine enterprise that Plato had countenanced, the 
possibility of a social and moral regeneration 
through some great genius of the race of the gods 
* or sons of the gods, takes definite bodily form in the 
heart of the people. From the depths of society 
arises that communism of the weary and oppressed 
which, in its way, to a certain extent, exhibits the 
common cast of thought and feeling, the common 


purpose and aim, which Plato had declared to be 
the first condition of the future State. Nor were 
some of these people less radical in their rejection 
of the morbid civilisation and their shaping of the 
ideal. The minds of men were so irresistibly 
drawn to this ideal by the action of religious and 
socio-ethical forces that the idea of a millennium 
reached a pitch of development that forcibly recalls 
Zeno's ideal social order. 

Chapter III. 


The chief import of Greek philosophy, as far 
as Christianity is concerned, is that it created 
the forms of thought in which the West could 
assimilate religious impulses and experiences. 
Monotheism, the fundamental feature of the 
Christian system, had its theological and 
ethical consequences so fully developed in 
Greek philosophy that it led directly to the 
dogmatic and ethic of the Church. The way 
had been well prepared for monotheism by the 
development of Greek philosophy. The 
rational craving for unity, to which philo- 
sophic speculation owes its rise, led inevitably 
to the monotheistic conception. Philosophic 
thought had, since the time of Thales of 
Miletus, regarded the natural world as a 
whole, and sought its supreme life-principle, 
its ground of existence. In the same way it 
conceived the spiritual world as a unity. To 
the deities of popular mythology it opposed 



the one God whom, in its abstract deduction 
of unity from plurality, it regarded as the 
essence of them all. 

The Greek philosophers are all monotheists, 
except those of the atomic school, who are 
concerned only with the scientific interpreta- 
tion of nature ; they remain monotheists even 
when, in practical life, they declare the 
popular deities to be particular revelations of 
the one God. Since Xenophanes wrote in the 
sixth century of the one God, supreme above 
all gods and men, not to be compared to 
mortals either in shape or thought, all eye, all 
ear, all mind, the idea of God's unity became 
an essential part of Greek philosophy. How- 
ever, this philosophic monotheism has to find 
some connecting link with the world. At first 
God himself is a cosmic power and pheno- 
menon, the All-One, enclosing the world in 
himself as an eternal being or eternal becom- 
ing. Then he becomes the World-Reason, 
creating and ordaining all things ; until at 
last Plato depicts God as the supreme unity 
of all the ideas of the invisible world, in which 
these ideas exist. This Platonic duplication 
of the world makes it needful to find some 
mediator between the supramundane God and 
the material world. 



In Plato the mediator is the soul. First, 
in the form of World-Soul, it brings beauty 
and harmony into the chaos of matter ; then, 
as the mind of man, it keeps alive the memory 
of the world of ideas, in which it had lived 
before its inclusion in the body ; and lastly, 
as Eros, or the love of wisdom, justice, 
beauty, and goodness, and therefore of God, 
it unites man by invisible and indestructible 
bonds to his eternal home, the world of ideas. 
Thus Plato fashions the metaphysical features 
of the Christian system : the transcendental 
world with its transcendental God, and the con- 
ception of a mediator between God and man, 
who has his origin in God, and is of divine 
character and essence. In the further develop- 
ment of Platonism this mediator comes to 
occupy the chief position. He is the divine 
principle of life and revelation, a truly divine 
being, personified wisdom, the word of God. 

However, this metaphysic is but the 
theoretic base of an ethical system which 
directs the philosophic craving for unity to 
the shaping of ideals of life. The social 
development of Greece soon brought to light 
the antithesis in men's minds between things 
as they were and things as they ought to be. 
After the lordly men of the Homeric age had 


ended their aristocratic existence, there was a 
popular reaction against the tendencies of the 
exploiting nobles. 

The first symptom of this awakening of the 
masses [says Pohlmann] is seen in the poetry of 
Hesiod. For him it is not external considerations 
that matter, but moral and religious views. Not 
the institutions, but the thoughts, of men are, in 
his opinion, the source of happiness or unhappiness. 
His song of labour strongly reminds us in this 
respect of the social-reform literature of a Christian 
and ethical idealism with which modern Socialism 

begins its development In the soul of the inspired 

poet there is the same child-like confidence as in 
the prophets and psalmists, and in modern Christian 
Socialists ; the belief that it only requires a moral 
and religious regeneration of society to free the 
world of all social and economic evils.' 

Sicily and the south of Italy were then the 
Eldorado of all social reformers. They 
escaped from the native penury and lived in 
colonies under certain rules of life, or sought 
with poetic enthusiasm to remove the existing 
inequalities and injustices of life, and turned 
the whole country into a glowing centre of 
social revolution. It was here that, in the 
sixth century before Christ, Doric immigrants 
had founded a communist State at Lipara. 
It was here that Pythagoras and his pupils 

' **Die Anfange des Sozialismus in Europa," in Sybels 
histortsche Zeitschrift, vol. 43, p. 421. 


had conducted their political experiments, 
trying to engender a new sense of life in 
mystic studies of numbers and with holy 
regulations and pious customs, and so to 
create a community of the good and pure in 
a wicked world. 

These vague and ambiguous social ideas 
were worked into a philosophic system by 
the intellectual activity that begins with 
Socrates. In his absolute faith in the organis- 
ing power of reason he made an extensive 
application of it to the political education of 
his fellow-citizens. His fundamental prin- 
ciple, that virtue is a form of knowledge and 
therefore teachable, applies to civic and poli- 
tical virtue. In this the political whole 
includes its several members in the same way 
as the abstract ideas of reason embrace the 
images of the concrete individual things 
subordinated to them. With the aid of this 
conceptual philosophy Plato then creates the 
philosophical superstructure of the Athenian 
city-state. This, as a rational structure, has 
a thoroughly ethical and normative signifi- 
cance ; it aims at being a political ideal, a 
rational State, the State of the future^ follow- 
ing the same aim as the ideal State of the 
prophets, save that it is created by the agency 


of an abstract philosophy instead of by that 
of religious intuition. In Plato, as in Amos, 
Hosea, Isaiah, the radical evil of life consists 
in the inequalities of possession, in the 
contrast of wealth and poverty that mars all 
the work and art of man. The roots of this 
evil are the love of money and egoism, which 
have brought about private property, and 
have, in the growth of capitalist exploitation, 
increased the ills both of the individual and 
the State. Hence the State must take up the 
struggle against this disorder. It must not 
itself be entangled in the evil of money- 
making in its chief organs, and so its leaders 
must have no private property ; they must 
show in their own lives that the only treasures 
worthy of man's pursuit are, not possession 
and luxury, which are illusory goods, but the 
love of wisdom and virtue. 

However, as the State rests on the principle 
of the division of labour, trade becomes indis- 
pensable as the means of exchanging the 
commodities produced. But if trade is not to 
be the source of luxury and money-making, it 
demands an equivalence of the things to be 
exchanged ; and in so far as labour, as an 
economic factor of value, comes into exchange, 
a trade which seeks an equivalent for this 


labour is just. Thus the economic problem 
of the Platonic republic is the same as that of 
the Christian Church ; it is the question of 
economic justice, the community or State 
being in both cases regarded as the power 
determining this justice. It is true that in 
Plato only the full Athenian citizen is con- 
sidered ; but in Aristotle we find a considera- 
tion of the half-citizen, the lower caste, the 
metoikos. The age of Alexander, which 
destroys the barrier between Western and 
Eastern civilisation, and raises the mind to an 
international point of view, opens with a wider 
knowledge of the world, and a strengthening 
of the sense of reality. Aristotle's "best 
State " is by no means a " State of the future." 
He is determined to have right in the present, 
here and now, though this State of his will be 
intermediate between the idea and the reality, 
a combination of the divine and human. The 
State is an organism, a body with many 
members. The organising force is reason, 
which gives its form to all matter. Since 
reason cannot be a monopoly of birth or 
wealth, the control of the State belongs to the 
whole of the people ; though the slaves, as an 
inferior class of men, are not included in this. 
The people must, in all their measures, be 



guided by the supreme law of social life, the 
law of justice and virtue. Aristotle attacks 
the accumulation of wealth even more sharply 
than Plato, and carefully distinguishes it from 
the circulation of commodities that economic 
life demands. It is a civic philosophy of the 
golden mean that we find in Aristotle, pre- 
paring the way for a humane system that will 
sweep aside the limitations of nationality and 
class. We begin to see the man who will be 
neither Jew nor Greek, but is conscious of his 
own value and his personal needs. 

The political organisation was strong 
enough in the earlier years to suppress these 
tendencies, which would make man the 
measure of all things, and recognise in each 
the rights of human nature ; but this oppres- 
sive political power fell with the collapse of the 
Greek system. The old antithesis of pleasure 
and pain once more gave expression to ele- 
mentary human feelings, and dominated the 
ideas of the philosophic schools until long after 
the close of the age. At first sight the pleasure- 
loving pupils of Epicurus seem to have very 
little to do with preparing the world for Chris- 
tianity, yet their habit of testing all life-values 
from the explicit standpoint of happiness is 
an unmistakable feature of Christianity. 


But it is especially the Stoic philosophy 
that reappears in the Christian system. The 
ascetic morality of the older cynics is enlarged 
and developed into a comprehensive philo- 
sophy, so that the most extreme representa- 
tives of Stoicism come into direct touch 
with the later cynical school. In the 
Stoic school political life, which philosophy 
had since the time of Socrates regarded 
as man's highest activity and the fulfil- 
ment of all ethical precepts, passes into 
complete cosmopolitanism. Zeno, the 
founder of the school, contemplates a great 
social world-state, in which all men are 
united in an ideal community by the 
natural law of reason, and pursue the same 
aim of obedience to this law. As the 
inner law should rule a man, Zeno 
held that the ideal State should have no 
courts of justice. The Stoics generally look 
with disfavour on the judging of others, 
because, as Epictetus says,' no one should 
pass judgment on others who has not himself 
been judged by the right, and it is an 
indignity for a judge to be judged by another. 
Not external behaviour, but the inner mood, 

* Manual of Morality , pp. 60 and 65 (Stich's translation). 


is the concern of the Stoic. Man's inward 
being is, according to Epictetus (p. 65), a 
vessel that must be kept clean if the philo- 
sophy that has to be poured into it is not to be 
spoiled. Hence, Epictetus makes the same 
charge against the philosophers as the Gospel 
does against the Pharisees — that they often 
fail to practise what they preach. He says 
(p. 28) : Avoid swearing — avoid it altogether 
if possible, but at least swear as seldom as 
you can. To its indifference to the country 
Stoicism joins indifference to the bonds of the 
family, going so far at times as to preach 
aversion from marriage (p. 7). ' On the other 
hand, every one who does the will of God is a 
brother or sister to the Stoic. For God is the 
Father of all men, and no higher name can be 
given to a man than that he is a chMd of 
God (pp. 71 and 72). Humanity lives in 
each human individual ; hence he honours 
humanity who recognises it even in the 
wicked and does good to them. The only 
worthy vengeance on an enemy is to do him 
as much good as possible (pp. 56 and 58). 
There are innumerable passages in which the 
Stoic glances with disdain at the possessions 
of the wealthy, and opposes to the passing 
treasures of the earth, which only the fool will 


gather, the real treasures of man, the attain- 
ments of reason. 

Thus we find an ascetic system among the 
Stoics that at times reaches a downright 
contempt of life, a suicidal flight from life to 
the freedom that awaits man at death. The 
final aim of this philosophy in the early years 
of the Roman Empire is to save the soul from 
the prison to which life has relegated it, to 
protect it amid all the menaces of terrestrial 
existence. From the mingling of different 
philosophic views with the mysticism that was 
spreading over the world we get the idea of 
an end of the world which opens out a new 
hope in the vision of a world beyond. 

From the end of the second century [says Erwin 
Rohde] there is a pronounced religious reaction, 
and it grows more and more with the course of 
time. Philosophy itself becomes a religion, fed by 
aspiration and revelation. The soul no longer 
looks proudly and calmly on what may lie behind 
the veil of death ; life seemed to demand a comple- 
ment elsewhere ; the hoary world seemed to have 
no possibility of growing young again on this 
earth. So with redoubled ardour hope flings itself 
with closed eyes into the new existence that is hid 
beyond the known and knowable world of the 
living. The soul is filled with hope and desire, but 
also with anxiety, in face of the dread secrets of 
death. At no other period of ancient history was 
the belief in the immortal life of the soul so 


ardently and anxiously expressed as in these days 

when the older civilisation was passing away 

There was a revival of the ancient and venerable 
mysteries of Eleusis, which were celebrated until 
near the close of the fourth century. Orphic 
conventicles must have assembled for a long time, 
and the Hellenised east had many similar orgies. 
Foreign religions pressed into Greece owing to the 
mingling with Eastern races, and had more success 
than the old Greek cults. Stringent orders, the 
rigid reserve of sacred knowledge, aversion from 
the world and its pleasures, ceremonial purification 
and sanctification, penance and asceticism, were 
more widespread in the East than in Greece. By 
these means they prepared the believers for the 
highest they could present to them — a. life of 
eternal happiness, far from this unclean world, in 
the kingdom of the holy and of those consecrated 
to God. The Egyptian religion spreads more and 
more down to the last days of the ancient faith ; 
and with it spread the Syrian or Phrygio-Thracian 
cult of Sabazius, of Attis, and of Cybele, and the 
Persian religion of Mithra. Obscure mysteries 
and symbolic rites work on the popular imagina- 
tion, and prepare it for a belief in magical influence. 
Even the higher culture of the time, degenerating 
into credulity and miracle-seeking, came at length 
to share in these purificatory rites, which had at 
first been confined to the lower classes of the 
population. The most cultivated men of the time 
reconciled themselves to all that was mysterious 
and incomprehensible, even in its most sensuous 
dress. The newly awakened religious feeling of the 
people had been accompanied by a return of philo- 
sophy to Plato and his religious speculations. 
Neo-Platonic speculation fills the last centuries of 
Greek intellectual life. It preaches a renunciation 


of natural life, and absorption in the spiritual 
world beyond.' 

This philosophy is the philosophy of poor 
men from the first. Appian speaks, in his 
description of the times from the Gracchi to 
Cassar, of the "poor devils" who, in the 
obscurity of private life, because they have 
nothing better to do and need some consola- 
tion in their poverty, turn to philosophy. 
Thus a new kind of popular culture spreads. 
These philosophic " poor devils " really repre- 
sent the mass of the people ; we find even in 
the dens of the slaves, and among the 
wretchedly paid artisans, not a few representa- 
tives of the highest culture, such as Epictetus 
the Stoic, originally a slave in the house of a 
brutal Roman patrician. These poor men, 
who nevertheless have the intellectual power 
to frame a new world, are the outcasts and 
disinherited, devouring their spiritual food 
with the greater hunger in proportion to the 
scantiness of their earthly food. In these 
circles of spiritual luxury there was a vivid 
consciousness that man does not live by bread 
alone. A new pride in real human dignity 
was engendered, and man was not valued at 
what he possessed, but at what he was. 

* Psyche, ii. 397. 


It must have been the thought of this philo- 
sophy of the poor that caused one of the first 
defenders of Christianity, Melito of Sardes, to 
describe his religion as ''Christian philo- 
sophy." The Bishop of Sardes explains how 
the Christian philosophy, which was first 
propagated among the barbarians, began to 
flourish under the illustrious sovereignty of 
the Emperor Augustus, and then kept pace 
with the progress of the imperial power.' 
Thus the Christian bishop acknowledges that 
Christianity, which he calls "our philosophy," 
was older than the Roman Empire, and he 
regards it as a special providence that the 
Empire was gifted with this foreign religion 
and its blessings. 

* Eusebius's Church History, iv. 26. 




Chapter IV. 


The share that Judaism had in the rise of 
Christianity is to be found in its Messianic 
doctrine. The word "Messiah," translated 

' into Greek, gave its name to the new religion. 
Later culture received its most powerful reli- 

« gious impulses from Hellenised Messiahism, 
so that the history of the Messianic idea 
represents the religious side of the preparation 
for Christianity. 

In the Old Testament records there is many 
a Messias, many an "anointed one," or 
" Christ," in the Greek translation of the term. 
Anointing with oil was an ancient religious 
usage. Originally it indicated the imparting 
of a divine blessing to men, at a time when 
nature and spirit were not yet antithetic ideas 
in the mind. The oil extracted from fruit was, 
like the fat of animals, a symbol of wealth 
and abundance. In the anointing with oil, 

> the basic idea of Messiahism, supernaturalism 



had found its symbolic expression. Mes- 
siahism, in contrast to Greek philosophy, 
could only thrive in conjunction with a con- 
ception of God and nature as really, and ^ 
not merely conceptually, distinct. But inas- 
much as M essiahism represents a link between 
a humanity that seeks, and a God that bestows, 
a blessing, it rises at once above super- ^ 
naturalism. In the anointed or Messianic 
man it gives a symbol of the blessing in 
which God gives the best of his life to man. 
The Messiah or Christ is, therefore — it is most . 
important to note — a general idea, a generic, ^ 
not a personal, name, not the name of an 
individual, as Christian usage leads one 
erroneously to suppose. 

There were many Christs before the time 
when the name began to be identified with 
Jesus. The second Isaias (xlv. i) gives the 
name of Christ to a heathen king, th^ Persian 
Cyrus. In the second psalm Christ, the Son 
of God, is a victorious prince, probably one of 
the Maccabeans, who returns to live on Mount 
Zion. Again, the holy stone anointed with 
oil became the ancient centre of a cult, Beth- 
El, and this retained its Messianic character 
down to the period of the later kings.' 

' Amos vii. 12 and 13. 


In the well-known 23rd psalm the writer 
praises Jahveh because he has anointed his 
head with oil, and so made him a Messiah. 
Thus Messiahism is the very soul of the 
religious history of Israel. Its roots go back 
into prehistoric times, the legendary days of 
the wandering tribes, when the religion of 
ancient Israel was still animistic — ^a cult of 
ancestral spirits, which were conceived as 
embodied, first in the sacred animal, and then 
in the sacred tree or stone.' When the 
cult of Jahveh afterwards raises a tribal 
religion to the rank of general religion, the 
sacred symbol is used for the anointing of 
the leading personalities in Jahveh's name. 
Jahveh was originally, as the name indicates, 
the god of storms. The summits of the 
mountains are sacred to him. Sacrifice is 
offered to him where the winds blow and the 
lightning flashes. The cherubim on which 
he moves are the clouds, and the seraphim 
that surround him are flashes of lightning. 
Even at a later date the psalmist sings of 
Jahveh who touches the mountains and they 
^ smoke, and the earth and it quakes, and who 
turns the winds into his messengers and the 
flames into servants. 

' Stade, Israelitische Geschichte, i. 409. 



Hence all that is strong is sacred to Jahveh 
— ^the bull, in whose metallic image Jahveh is 
worshipped (2 Moses Ixxii. 4 ; i Kings xii. 
28, etc.), as the horned altar witnesses at a 
later date ; the prince, the head of his tribe, 
who is a head taller than all the rest. So the 
strong Saul becomes a Messiah, the anointed 
of Jahveh, and then the stronger David, who 
slew ten times as many Philistines as Saul. 
The strong men bring the resisting tribes 
under their power ; they create the kingdom 
of Israel. The new political greatness 
involves fresh economic arrangements. King 
Saul, indeed, is still a peasant, and in times 
of peace cultivates his land. But David lays 
the foundation of a standing army in the 
bodyguard with which he surrounds himself. 
He builds the royal town of Zion, and becomes 
a military prince. Solomon, finally, awaken- 
a mercantile interest in the people, who had 
hitherto been purely agricultural. He creates 
a foreign trade with the Phoenicians and Arabs, 
and so commences the great economic revolu- 
tion that raises Israel to the rank of a civilised 
people, but at the same time gives occasion 
within it to social struggles that will last for 

The rulers and officials come to form an 


independent class from the agricultural mass 
of the population. They thus place them- 
selves in opposition to the people, who are 
now involved in the interests of the dynasty 
and split into factions. Trade brings new 
commodities and new needs into the country. 
Mobile capital arises, and begins its mobilis- 
ing work, quietly but irresistibly, on immobile 
capital. The peasant, who had for ages culti- 
vated his own land and secured a modest 
sustenance for himself and his family, 
becomes dependent on the trader. He 
becomes a trader himself, a debtor or a 

/ creditor; and, in proportion as the large 
landowners and capitalists strengthen their 

^ position, a proletariate is formed in the lower 
strata, and must do the toil of free or fettered 

This was the situation about 760 B.C., when 
the prophets began the work of social reform. 
Prophecy applies itself to its proper task ; it 
enters on the phase which secures for it a 

place of honour in the history of humanity. 
In older Israel prophecy has its roots, like all 
the cognate forms of religious life, in man's 
unconscious religious instincts. It is a 

'^ Dionysiac fervour and enthusiasm. From 
the mountain summits where the common 


sacrifida] meal is celebiated come the swanns 
of fonadcs with their drums and fifes and 
harps, and Saul himself is caught in their 
enthusiasm (i Sam. i. 5-11). Among these 
older prophets, who are at first called seeis, 
we find the men of God who have to announce 
Jahveb's message to the people in the oracle, 
after the lot has been drawn (i Sam, ix. 9, 
to, 20). The oracular sayings become law, 
and regulate the traditional order and morals 
— the Tora, the main trunk of Israel's laws. 
But the law is only oral, elastic, and indefi- 
nite, and the man of God who speaks in the -, 
oracle receives a gift for his work (1 Sam. ix. 
7). Thus right is easily twisted in fiivour of 
the powerful and wealthy, as we learn even of 
the sons of the most powerful man of God, 
Samuel (i Sam. viiL 3). In this way the 
leading personalities are entangled in a 
process that, in its further development, 
reveals the greatest social and ethical dangers. 

This development is now confronted by the 
men whom we call the prophets in the 
narrower sense. First they appear as reli- 
gious reformers, and enter into conflict with 
the leaders of the men of God, who bad been 
the seers of eadier Israel. These men had 

'^en into such disrepute that Amos, the first 





of the reforming prophets, protests against 
being included in the class {Amos vii. 14). 
It is true that at first the people would not 
drink the wine of these new prophets, because 
)the old was milder and more pleasant. " If I 
i'were a seducer and a preacher of lies, and 
told men how they might drink and riot, then 
{should I be a preacher of the people," says 
Micah of the usual preachers of his time 
(ii. 11). Down to the time of the destruction 
of Jerusalem Jeremias has to complain that 
the prophets go about Jerusalem with lies, 
confirming the wicked and leading astray the 
flock of Jahveh (xxiii.). 

But they were social as well as religious 
reformers, and indeed their social reform is 
the soul of the religious. Amos preaches 
against the wealthy, the fat cows, who are 
unjust to the needy and exploit the poor. 
They turn right into bitterness, and trample on 
justice. They sell the poor man for a pair of 
shoes, raise the price of money, and give false 
measure and false wares. Then they carouse 
at the altar in pledged clothes, and drink the 
wine of the condemned in the holy places 
{Amos ii. 7) ; and Isaias cries woe over those 
<< who join house to house and field to field, 
till there be no place, that they may stand 


alone in the midst of the earth " (v. 8). It had 
been made so easy for people to continue their 
injustice and spoliation under the mantle of 
piety. Prophets and priests lived at ease with 
them, and caroused with them at the festivals, 
at which they made sacrifice to Jahveh. 
Hence the prophets combated the whole 
sacrificial system, which had become a mere 
gloss for the misdeeds of the mighty. 
" Jahveh demands mercy, and not sacrifices," 
says Hosea (vi. 6). Jahveh is sated with 
burning victims, and has no desire for the 
blood of lambs. He is an enemy to all this 
worship, with its sabbath-days and festivals, its 
outstretched hands and endless prayers (ii. 1 1- 
17). Jahveh wishes the people to do the right, 
to give justice to the oppressed and help to 
the weak. For Jahveh is himself right and 
justice. To do the right and just, that is what 
Jahveh demands of his people. Thus the 
prophets represent a power, but a spiritual f 
and moral power. Jahveh's power is his 
justice, helping the weak against the 
wilfulness and domination of the stronger, 
defending the poor from the oppression of the 

But the preaching of the prophet can only 
be efifective when it passes into law. It would 


create a new order of things in Israel — a social 
order in which might no longer goes before 
right. Hence the prophets turn to political 
agitation ; they aim to lead the political life, 
and to commend their ideas of religious and 
social reform to the rulers. The prophet 
Isaias, who was the moving spirit in the 
policy of Hezekiah, is the first to succeed in 
this. Later, after a great victory over the 
reactionary forces which were concentrated in 
an attack on the reforms, this was done to an 
even greater extent under King Josiah in the 
year 621. It was then that the compilation of 
reform laws, which we now know as the 

' Mosaic Deuteronomy ^ was concluded, and 
became the law of the realm (2 Kings 
With this legislation Messiahism begins as 

' a social theory passing into practical life. 
The fundamental idea — that all the defenders 
of Jahveh, the kings and prophets, are 

^anointed (i Kings xix. 16) — gives a Messianic 
and prophetic character to the whole life of 

•, the nation. Deuteronomy is the first historic 

' attempt to make humanitarianism the starting- 
point of legislation. The rights of property 

* are so restricted that the poor man is protected 

from any pressing danger of hunger. He is 



to take from the produce of the field as much 
as he can pluck with his hand, without the aid 
of a sickle. The owner must not cut and 
gather the last stalk from his field, and must 
leave the gleanings on the field after the 
harvest ; they must go to the poor. The 
pledge-right is restricted, so that the creditor 
can never take the debtor's millstone or 
garment, his last and most necessary posses- 
sion. The day's pay must be given in full, 
and before sunset on each day. All owner- 
ship is temporary ; in the fiftieth year, the 
jubilee year, each man must return to his 
possessions and his race. In the seventh 
or sabbath year there shall be no private 
cultivation of the soil ; all the fruit 
that nature yields then shall be common 
property, for strangers as well as natives. 
This sabbath year is also a year of indul- 
gence. During it all who have sold them- 
selves into service must be set free with 
appropriate gifts of cattle and corn ; no 
debts can be recovered, and no one must 
refuse a loan in view of the approach of the 
indulgence-year. There must be no beggars 
in the land. No one shall harden his heart 
against, or withhold his hand from, a poorer 
brother ; and the children of Israel shall even 



protect and love the stranger, and give him 
food and clothing.' 

All these laws are inspired by the one 
thought : Jahveh is Israel's God ; he is holy, 
» and so his people shall be holy. In this way 
the laws are bound up with the cult of Jahveh ; 
and, as the law is to apply to the whole land, 
jthe cult of Jahveh must be a national cult. In 
the older religion Jahveh was worshipped on 
the summits of the mountains and in the 
ancient sacred places. He was worshipped 
under different names and with all the freedom 
of local traditions. In order to centralise the 
new law the prophets have to obliterate all 
traces of the older cult. They zealously 
combat the worship on the mountains and the 
bronze statues of Jahveh that were found in 
the old places of worship. Jahveh replaces 
all the older deities in the new prophetic 
realm. He is jealous of his honour. His 
chief religious law is : Thou shalt have no 
other gods beside me. As the private and 
local cult is the centre of all the forces that 
re opposed to the prophetic law-reforms and 
^eir centralising tendency, the new law 

t •• 

"^; xxiv. 19-21; xxiv. 6, 10-17; xxv. 14; 
10 ; xix. 9. 


Stands or falls with the establishment of the 
new national cult. The ancient faith of the 
people carries on a sanguinary struggle with 
the new faith of the prophets ; but the old 
altars and sanctuaries are at length swept 
away. Jahveh becomes the only God of^ 
Israel, and in Jerusalem alone is his sanctuary. 
The worship of him can only be conducted in 
the forms prescribed in the law, and by the 
persons who are specially appointed for it. 

Political events prevent the application of 
the practical test how far an effective national 
life could be conducted on this legislation ; but 
they also prevent the people from making any 
development or modification of the laws on 
the strength of experience. Thirty-five years 
after the definitive establishment of the 
reformed laws the kingdom of Judah came to 
an end in the Babylonian captivity, and the t 
law went with them into exile. There they 
had no political soil on which to try the 
experiment of living under the new laws. » 

The restriction only intensified the growth 
of the ideas in the popular mind, and at 
length they took concrete shape in the picture 
of the Messianic State of the future. That , 
Jahveh rewards those who love and practise 
his law was the principle on which the 


prophets had inaugurated their new moral 
order. The realm that lived under Jahveh's 
law would be a realm of prosperity, freedom, 
and peace ; and, as the prophets had painted 
Jahveh's kingdom in the brightest colours, 
the popular belief now fastens on the descrip- 
tion. Permanent features of the Messianic 
prosperity are now fixed in the mind, and the 
contrast of these with the reality makes them 
more vivid than ever. As long as the people 
could test the new State in their own land, it 
was enough for the prophets to point to the 
connection between man's action and the 
divine reward or punishment in order to find 
support for the theocratic system in the 
popular mind. But in exile the problem of 
suffering comes to disturb this simple idea of 
a moral order. Before the exile the prophets, 
especially Hosea, had joined to their menaces 
of punishment the pedagogical assurance that 
Jahveh would cherish his beloved son, the 
people of Israel, with fatherly regard, so that 
they might do the will of Jahveh out of love 
of him. 

But during the exile they have experiences 
that do not fit very well into this pedagogical 
system. In the national misfortune it is 
precisely the most pious, the most zealous, 


servants of Jahveh that suffer most. Thus 
the second Isaias, who writes about the end of 
the exile, and whose work is contained in the 
last twenty-six chapters of the book of Isaias, 
sets out the problem of the suffering servant 
of God, and the prophetic traits of his descrip- ^ 
tion become typical for all Messianic stories of 
suffering in later years. This despised and 
humiliated people of God is atoning for the 
faults of others, not suffering for its own. 
The suffering servant of Jahveh bears the 
malady and the pain of those who say, when 
they see him, that he is being punished by 
God. In his case the suffering is a work of 
love, the pious man offering himself as a 
victim in order to bring salvation and peace 
to his fellows by his voluntary suffering, and 
so be himself blessed by Jahveh with Messianic 

At the same time, the Messianic legal ^ 
reform is further developed during the , 
exile. As it is not confined by any political 
reality, it expands into a purely ideal; 
kingdom, a theocratic priest-state, in which^ 
Jahveh would rule by means of his Messianic 
representatives. This idea of the coming 
theocracy reacts on earlier history. The 
whole ancient history of Israel is revised on 


the lines of this plan. The extant historical 
documents are so altered that they no longer 
describe the natural development of the 
nation, but present a supernatural and 
miraculous story. The Jewish priest-state 
is made to be the goal of the whole history 
of the world, if not the real reason for its 
creation. The nation that is called to form 
this theocracy is represented as chosen out of 
all others from the beginning. It is exempt 
from the political conditions of natural develop- 
ment, and moves under God's own guidance. 
The history of the other nations with which 
ancient Israel had been connected, and from 
which it had been born into its own political 
and social existence, is modified from this 
theocratic point of view. They are all deeply 
stained in the eyes of the later Jewish his- 
torians. The history of Israel is one long 
process of extricating the chosen nation from 
; them, and is a constant struggle of Jahveh 
^against the people's leaning to the customs 
I and ideas of these other nations, a process of 
[ purification from the heathen taint. 

Hence, when the exiles are permitted to 
return, we soon see the effect of this theocratic 
view in those who make use of the favour. 
To secure the theocratic monopoly of the 


Jews and exploit it in every way is found to 
be the chief pre-occupation of those who sit in 
the chair of Moses and represent his supposed 
laws. The synagogue makes its appearance, 
with its masters, rabbis, and scholastic exposi- 
tion of the law. The party of "the pure," or 
the Pharisees, is formed, and regards the 
punctilious observance of the literal maxims as 
the height of holiness. And as at the time of 
the return from exile Ezra, the scribe, had 
demanded and carried out the great purifica- 
tion of the people from all non-Judaic elements 
as a religious duty of the people to Jahveh, so 
now the character of strict national exclusive- 
ness fastens on the people under the leader- 
ship of the rabbis. The children of Abraham 
look down on all non-Jews as unclean, as 
heathens, and denounce their gods — with 
which ancient Israel had been on very good 
terms — as false gods and idols. 

But underneath this upper- current of 
Pharisaic-Rabbinical thought there remains 
a strong prophetic reaction as a religious / 
under-current. This is seen very plainly in ' 
the books of Ruth and Jonas. Both works i 
belong to later Jewish literature, and are 
vigorously directed against Jewish Chauvinism. * 
The book of Ruth is a romantic poem, putting 


back its story into the time of the Judges, in 
order to show that pure virtue was found not 
only in Palestine, but also in the people of 
Moab, whom the theocratic historians had 
branded with' an ignoble origin, and, in fact, 
making a woman of this hated race the mother 
of the Davidic dynasty. In the same way the 

'' story of Jonas is intended to preach to the 
writer's contemporaries that Jahveh found a 
people ready to do penance even in despised 
Nineveh, and that he applied a severe remedy 
to the prophet who had yielded to the national 
illusion. Here we have^ in opposition to the 

^ prevailing narrow nationalism, the broad and 
free view which was preparing people even in 
Judea for the formation of an international 
community. We have already the God who 
causes his sun to shine on the good and the 
bad, and the rain to fall on just and unjust ; 
the God who ignores the limitations of the 
Jewish national God, and becomes identical 

// with the world-wide God of Greek philosophy. 

In morality, also, there is a reaction against 

the Pharisaic-Rabbinical school. The ethic 

^of the synagogue was juridical from the first. 
It was based on the written letter, and the 
interpretation of this by the masters. Hence 
popular morality was purely conventional and 


external. The individual could not grasp its 
meaning, and never asked about its inner 
foundations. The authority of the school 
regulated life down to its smallest details, and 
the people, who did not understand the law, 
and still less the Rabbinical art of interpreta- 
tion, could do nothing but bow to the foreign 
tongue. There was no connection between 
what the learned master declared to be clean 
or unclean, and the moral conscience of the 

Then a more human and natural morality 
forces its way into the sacred sphere of the 
synagogue from the Jews who live among the 
Greeks and have something of Greek feeling 
— the Jews of Hellenistic cultivation. We 
recognise this in the proverbial literature of' 
the Old Testament. In this collection of 
proverbs, first appearing under the name of 
Solomon, man seeks to deduce the norms of 
ethical conduct from his own experience of 
life. He sees that certain consequences follow 
certain actions, and makes a moral philosophy 
for himself. As in that of the Greeks, the 
good is wisdom and the bad folly. Man is n 
turned upon himself in this morality of the 
Proverbs. It is true that God, the Most High, 
has imposed his will as law on men ; but this 


law is at the same time the supreme wisdom 
of life, the innate moral reason. Obedience 
to God's law springs from rational acceptance 
of it ; it is the realisation of the wisdom that 
man has taken as the guide of his life. 
Hence the morality of the proverbial literature 
/leads directly to that of the Gospels. The 
foundation of morality is in both cases eudae- 
monistic : the good is good for man — it is that 
which gives him strength and life, and makes 

, him happy. 

There are also material points of contact 
throughout In the Solomonic Proverbs the 
force of patience and self-control is praised, 
and the writer commends goodness of heart, 
gentleness, and mercy ; avarice, pride, injus- 
tice, and hardness of heart are described as 
enemies of human happiness. In particular, 
the sayings of the Jesus who is known to us as 
the son of Sirach contain all the chief points 
of the Sermon on the Mount. The sayings 
of Jesus in the Old Testament offer the most 

; remarkable parallel to the sayings of Jesus in 
the Gospels. The love of God is commended 
as true piety, and men are warned to avoid 
hypocrisy in piety (yi?,r«j i'/ra^A ii. i8; iv. 15; 
i. 34). The Gospel urges men not to fear 
those who kill the body, and praises those 


who are persecuted for justice' sake ; the pious 
Jesus of the Old Testament urges men to' 
cling to truth even unto death, and to embrace 
the right without shame or fear before men 
(Matt X. 28 ; V. 10 ; Jesus Sirach iv. 24-33). • 
Readiness to help the ailing, the weak, and 
the oppressed, the giving of alms, gentleness 
in judging one's neighbour's faults, generosity 
in pardoning injustice — ^all these virtues of 
Christian charity have an eloquent pleader in 
this collection of the sayings of the earlier 
Jesus ; and the dangers of wealth, of accumu- 
lating treasures, of monetary anxiety, are, to 
say the least, as strongly urged in these 
sayings of the Old Testament Jesus as in the 
Sepmon on the Mount. There is really not a 
single idea of any importance in the Christian . 
sayings for which we cannot find a parallel, or 
at least a point of contact, in the sayings of: 
the Old Testament. The parallel is some- 1 
times so plain that we can be certain the later 
compiler has made use of the earlier. Thus 
the rich man in the Gospel parable says to his 
soul : '' Soul, thou hast much goods laid up 
for many years. Take thine ease, eat, drink, 
and be merry " ; and God says to him : '' Thou 
fpol, this night thy soul shall be required of 
ee : then whose shall those things be which 



thou hast provided?" (Luke xii. 19). So, in 
the sayings of the older Jesus, the man who 
thinks he has done something says to himself: 
" Now I will enjoy life, and eat and drink of 
my goods — and he knows not that the hour is 
so near when he must leave all and die " 
AJestis Sirach xi. 18). In this way we have | 
I in the proverbial literature a further develop- 1 
Iment of the prophetic morality, ma^ierfruitful ' 
by the eudasmonistic ethic of Greece, accord- 
\ ing to which the moral Ip^.ls conceived in 
I proportion to its woTth^Jfdr^the human perso^^ 
'nality, and is brougfit into intfSiate cbnnec^'^ 
rttotTwith hupiafn nature. 

The proverbial literature is also significant 
as the introduction of the Greek idea of the 
Logos, an independent divine reason, inter- 
mediate between God and the world, which 
afterwards finds canonical expression in the 
Christology of the Church. Even in these 
sayings wisdom is represented as a distinct 
being, the epitome of ail the divine gifts to 
man. Divine wisdom, man's highest good, is 
personified, and described as a creative force, 
existing before the world. It was with God 
in the beginning, and without it nothing was 
made of the things that were made ; and it is 
even called the Logos of God {Sayings of 


Solomon viii.; Jesus Strach xxiv.). In the 
Wisdom of Solomxm this raising of the divine 
Sophia to a distinct divine existence is fully 
accomplished. This Sophia (wisdom) is not 
only a cosmic, but also a moral and religious, 
principle of life, the intermediary between 
man and God {JVisdom vii. 25). In this way 
Hellenism introduces into Judaism, which is 
unable to protect itself even in the synagogue, 
the dualism that will one day rend the whole 
Rabbinical structure. About two centuries 
before the Christian era we clearly perceive 
within Judaism the working of the spiritual 
movement that has been inherited from the 
prophets and eventually finds expression in 
the Gospels. The morality of the Gospels, 
too, must be taken entirely in conjunction with 
the Hellenistic ethic of the proverbial litera- 

At length, under the influence which Greek 
philosophy exercises on the Jewish religion, 
we get the new literary growth of the Jewish 
Apocalypse, which is most significant of all. 
In this Judaism, with its strongest impulse^^^ 
Messianism, joins on to Platonism, and from/ 
this mingling of the two chief fruits of ancient, 
culture we can understand the prominent 
position that the Apocalypse had in the» 


spiritual development far down into the 
Middle Ages, if not in the theological thought 
of our own time. 

The cHief example of this class of literature 
is the book of Daniel. As is usual with 
writers of the time, the author puts the scene 
of his story in a remote historical and geo- 
r graphical environment. The revelations which 
the book conveys in the form of dreams and 
their interpretation centre about the person of 
Daniel, who is supposed to have lived at 
Nebuchadnezzar's court at Babylon ; whereas 
the real situation with which the book deals is 
some four centuries later than the Babylonian 
kings, and belongs to the time of the Mac- 
cabean revolt under the Syrian king Antiochus 
Epiphanes. The book of Daniel twice clearly 
describes in their broad lines the historical 
events that occurred ^from the Chaldaic to the 
Syrian supremacy. Four great empires have 
gone to pieces. With the last, the empire of 
Alexander, the Jews came under Greek 
dominion. They then formed the apple of 
discord between the two chief Hellenistic 
kingdoms that had been made out of 
Alexander's empire — that of the Ptolemies 
and that of the Seleucidas. At last, in 
198 B.C., the Syrian king succeeded in 



wresting the province of Palestine from the 
Egyptians and uniting it to his own dominion, 
and the Jewish people soon threatened to 
be<:ome a victim of the Hellenising zeal of the 
Syrian monarch. 

It was in this situation created by Antiochus 
Epiphanes that the book of Daniel was 
written in 167. From the fourth of the great 
beasts that symbolise the four great empires 
the author s^^s a little horn (together with ten 
others) growing ; this is the king who makes 
blasphemous speeches against the Most High 
and his sanctuaries, purposes to abolish the 
festivals and the law, and has the holy places 
delivered up to him. The book of Daniel 
then describes the historical events that follow 
this Syrian despotism in the form of visions of 
the future, and gives its Messianic hopes and 
ideas as revelations that interpret his pictures 
of the future. But in his ardent struggle 
with the political ascendancy of Hellenism 
the author has penetrated so deeply into 
Greek thought that his own tendency, 
Messianism, has assumed a thoroughly 
Hellenistic shape. The Messias, who is to 
free them from the Syrian yoke and bring 
their rulers to the dust, is described as one 
who comes on the clouds of heaven, as a son 


of man. He is brought before the Ancient of 
Days, and receives from him an eternal rule 
and kingdom, that shall never be destroyed, 
and all peoples and races and tongues shall do 
him homage {Dan. vii. 13 and 14). 

Here, therefore, the Messias has a human 
form, and has lost his specifically Jewish 
features. It is a super-terrestrial man, coming 
on the clouds of heaven and having direct 
communion with the Deity. Whether Daniel's 
" Son of Man " is to be conceived as a definite 
individual or a personification of the Messianic 
kingdom, at all events this transcendental con- 
ception of the Messianic man would be quite 
impossible on a purely Jewish soil. The 
heavenly man, the character in which the 
Messias is always depicted afterwards in the 
New Testament {Matt. xvi. 27 ; xxv. 31 ; 
xxvi. 64; I. Cor. XV. etc.), belongs entirely 
to the world of Platonic thought. He is the 
ideal man, coming from the invisible upper 
world into this nether and visible one, to raise 
up an eternal kingdom in it. For the first 
time in the Old Testament we find in the 
book of Daniel the idea of personal immor- 
tality, which is also part of the Platonic 
system. The deliverance of the people from 
the misery and oppression of the time is 



accompanied by a resurrection of the dead, 
the great judgment day : " Many of those 
that sleep in the ground shall awakeh : some 
to eternal life, and some to eternal shame. 
The teachers shall shine like the glory of the 
heavens, and those who have led the people 
to justice, like the stars, for ever and ever " 
{Dan. xii.). Hence, both in its origin and its 
aim the Messianic kingdom of the future, in 
Daniel's Apocalypse, belongs to the other 
world ; and just as the heavenly hierarchy of 
the angels is the connecting link between the 
world of the heavenly Son of Man and his 
eternal kingdom, so the "teachers" are 
represented as his earthly hierarchy, working 
together with the angels. 

The further development of the apocalyptic 
view fixes this stamp of other-worldliness more 
and more on all earthly things, until the 
theory culminates in the Christian theocracy 
with its God-man Messiah. The ideas of this 
Jewish apocalyptic literature often pass so 
insensibly into those of Christianity that 
theologians have been puzzled whether to 
attribute particular passages to one tendency 
or the other. Thus in the book of Ezra 
we find the signs of the time that will 
precede the last judgment and the appearance 


of the Messias described as they are in the 
Gospels — wonders in the sun and moon, the 
prevalence *of injustice, great fear on the 
earth, so that the very stones cry out. In 
both places, moreover, the day and hour of 
the Messianic appearance are hidden. But 
when the day comes the Son of God, Christ, 
will reveal himself with all those who are 
with him. Then the Son of God, Christ, will 
die, and all who draw human breath, until, 
after seven days, the past fades away and the 
earth gives up its dead. 

The connecting link between this apocalyptic 
other-worldliness and reality is communism, 
which forms the economic background of the 
Apocalypse, though it is not prominently 
expressed. In the third book of the Sibylline 
Oracle communism is expressly proclaimed to 
be juiAice demanded by the law of God. It is 
said of those who dwell in the Utopian city 
that the apocalyptic writer takes as his Mes- 
sianic ideal : — 

They dwell on justice and virtue, and there is- in 
them no covetousness, the begetter of a thousand 
evils to mortal men, of war and hunger without 
end. With them the people are just in the town 
and the country. They do not steal in the night 
from each other, nor drive away the herds of cattle, 
sheep, and goats ; nor does anyone take away his 
neighbour's landmark, nor does the wealthier man 



injure the poorer. No one oppresses the widow, 
but rather helps her with gifts of corn, wine, and 
oil. He who has many possessions among the 
people sends a part of the harvest always to the 
poor, fulfilling the word of the great God ; for the. 
heavenly power has created the earth alike for all, 
and in the breasts of all alike put the best feelings. 

The immortal in the starry heavens will give 

men a common law over the whole earth. There will 
be no war and no sterility on the earth, no hunger, 
and no crop-destroying hail, but peace on the 
earth ; and king shall be a friend to king unto the 
end of all time. (Kautzsch edition.) 

Covetousness is the great crime, and in the 
last judgment, which the Messianic Son of 
Man will pass on all creatures, it is especially 
the rich and powerful that will suffer. 

So prophetic Messianism culminates, at a 
moment when the Christian era opens, in an 
apocalyptic expectation of a world-kingdom 
in which ''no man shall any more say of a 
thing that it is his." Then the Christian 
theocracy inherits this Jewish vision, and the 
chief economic precept of Christ's kingdom, 
to give all one has to the poor, becomes the 
starting-point of the new Christian apocalypse. 


Chapter V. 

It is a general feature of social life that, with 
the growth of a State, natural links are formed 
between the individuals and the body politic. 
These are small groups and associations, 
originally relics of the older tribal organisa- 
tion, then independent corporations, which 
allow a fuller and freer play of individual 
action than the uniformity of civil law can 
admit. Th e morft the State sf iP^° ^^ m^ntr^Utzt^ 
its power, the clearer becomes the antagonism 
between its i£gisl air5Tr"tm d the J jcr ""i^"i g of 
lits members, until t he conflict of int eres ts 
leads either to th e supp ression g^ thft y^?iS^^^'^- 

ti ons or the dftstryg tion of the State. 

•" ^ ^^^^^^^'^^^■^■^^••^^^^ ^ 

When we regard it in this light the struggle 
of the Roman Empire against Christianity 
ends in the victory of the Christian com- 
munities. These are found to be unionj^ in 
VhicITThe a ss ociational tend encY-J^ Jll?_9ld 
world has concentrated its who le strength, and 
in which it at last passes out of recognition 




into a "Holy Catholic Church." The re- 
search of P. Foucart' and Otto Liiders' has 
made plain to us the chief features and the 
historical significance of the ancient associa- 
tions. Just as the old racial body in Hellas 
or Rome had its centre of unity in the common 
cult of a tribal deity, so all the associations 
that are formed within the mature political 
structure are united in the service of a certain 
hero or god, under whose patronage the 
members work. In Attica these associations 
are from the first independent of the political 
league of the people; they differ from it in 
their organisation and their peculiar cult. 
We find the first official mention of them in 
the Solonic legislation, from which they 
were transferred into the Roman Twelve 
Tables. Gajus refers to them in the fourth 
book on the Twelve Tables : " Associates 
are those who belong to the same collegium, 
called by the Greeks hetairia. The law 
gives them the power to enter into what- 
ever agreements they will, provided they do 
not transgress the law."^ As to the names of 

' Des Associations r^ligieuses chez Us Grecs, Paris, 1875. 
' Die Dionysischen KUnsUer, Beriin, 1873. 
3 Foucart, op, cit.f p. 48. [Eranos means origfinally a 
meal to which all contribute, or a picnic. — Trans.] 



these associations, we find, besides the older 
name of the Orgeoni, the name Thiasotae and 
the members of an Eranos ; the Thiasotae exhi- 
biting the religious, and the Eranistas rather 
the secular, character, though, as Otto Liiders 
says, they may be taken as identical. The 
protective patron, the tribal deity or hero at 
the centre of the Thiasic cult, gives his name 
to the association. Thus we find Soteriastae 
at Rhodes, with the saviour-god, Zeus soter, 
as their patron. Then there are Heracleistae 
at Delos, and other associations are dedicated 
to Dionysos, to the moon-god, or to the sun- 

These deities are not of purely Greek 
origm, even when they have Greek names, 
or are combined with Greek names ; they 
generally jcome from Asia Minor, and are 
oriental deities. The Heracleistae of Delos, 
for instance, have not the Theban Hercules 
for patron, as Herodotus observes, but the 
Syrian Hercules, who was sacred to merchants 
and sailors. It is quite clear that this associa- 
tion within the national limits bore an inter- 
national character, and this is expressly con- 
firmed by the discovery of a number of lists of 
members of such bodies. Thus, according to 
an inscription, an association at Cnidos 



included one freemani three foreigners who 
served as slaves, and a native slave. Even 
women were admitted to full membership. . 

The associations regulated their own affairs /^^ ! 

wi th co mplete i ndependenc e. The meeting 
of member si^ or synod^ was the iupreme 
tribunal for all matters pertaining to the 
association. iLjdetermined the forms of the 
reward or punishment of the members, regu- 
lated the conditions for their^admjssion and 
exclusion, andits power was unlimited. At the 
head of the community was the archUhiasos or 
archeranist^ though he had merely to carry 
out the resolutions of the body, and could do 
nothing of his own initiative in cases that 
were not regulated. Anyone, even the women, 
had the right to speak at the meetings. A 
resolution passed by the synod received the 
name of "decree." From a fragment of a 
decree that belonged to the acta (minutes) of 
an association at Pirasus we learn that the 
causing of divisions and tumults was a ground 
for excommunication ; and this synodal decree, 
renewed in the age of the Antonines, may be 
taken as typical for other cases.' 
As in all ancient religious associations, the 

' Foucart, pp. 17, 19, and 42. 


common meal, generally in conjunction with 
a sacrifice, is an essential part of the cult. To 
these symbolic meals, which lasted until the 
fourth century of our era, and are mentioned 
by the Council of Laodicsea, the members 
either bring food and drink with them, or else 
the cost is defrayed out of a fund to which 
they all contribute. From the fact that six 
out of seven decrees refer to meetings that 
were held in the month Munychiop (April i8th 
to May i8th), Foucart concludes that the meet- 
ings must have been particularly important 
during this time. But there was a general 
assembly every month that went by the name 
of the ayopa Kupta — ^the lord's (or master's) 
meeting. During the common meal the 
memory of the patronal hero was honoured 
and hymns sung to him ;'' and in an associa- 
tion that was formed in honour and religious 
service of all heroes, known as the Heroistas, 
the second distribution of food at the meal 
was, by a common decree, made in memory 
of all heroes.' The members of an association 
were occasionally called, especially by their 
enemies, after the day in which they celebrated 
their regular meal. Thus there were Eika- 
dists, who met on the twentieth day of the 

' Foucart, p. 12a ^ Liiders, op, cit, p. 15. 


month, sacred to Apollo, and Tetradists, who 
met on the day sacred to Aphrodite Pandemos. 
In the second century of our era the followers 
of a certain custom in celebrating the Christian 
sacred meal were called Quartodecimans by 
their opponents, after April 14th, which they 
chose for the purpose. 

Before admission the applicants were rigor- 
ously examined by the president as to their 
cleanness, and, in harmony with the religious 
ideas of these clubs, it was essentially oriental 
standards by which the purity or impurity of 
the applicant's life was judged. Abstinence 
from certain acts and foods was enjoined, and 
the purification, which generally took the 
form of baptism, was given in accordance 
with the results of this examination. The 
poet Eypolis, a contemporary of Alcibiades, 
ridicules the members of an Eranic association 
dedicated to the Thracian goddess Cotytto as 
|3a7rra(= baptised. Most of the decrees of the 
Thiasic synods relate to the social rights and 
duties of the members. Here we see the 
associations in their economic and social 
significance. They are societies for giving 
support out of a common fund, defraying the 
cost of the funeral of a member, and some- 
times creating a fund for loans without interest 


and providing hospitality and mutual assist- 
ance to members who are travelling. If the 
patronal deity is acknowledged by the State, 
the societies are recognised as juristic persons ; 
they are defended in court by their syndic, 
and can acquire landed property. Artisans 
are much found among these pious fraternities. 
It was a sphere in which labour, despised by 
official society and the nobles, received the 
honour due to it ; and the union of forces gave 
considerable power to the class, and prepared 
it for a moral and economic change in the 
fabric of society. At Smyrna there was an 
association of gold and silver workers. Thya- 
tira must have been an especial centre of these 
societies. Here there were flourishing guilds 
of cloth-makers, dyers, potters, and bakers. "^ 
But the most widespread were the guilds of 
theatrical players, which had their centre at 
Teos, and were dedicated to the god 

All these organisations found their connect- 
ing link in the common cult of their divine 
patron. The cult differed very considerably 
in detail, but in the main it was everywhere 
dominated by certain leading thoughts. The 
origin of the ideas in Asia Minor was always 

' Luders, p. 16. 


apparent. The Lydo-Phrygian myth of Attis, 
the lover of the god-mother, and his tragic 
death and happy resurrection ; the story of 
the Cretan Zeus, who was born in a cave 
and afterwards died ; Demeter, who wandered 
over the earth in search of her daughter ; 
Dionysos, Sabazios, Adonis, who were perse- 
cuted for succeeding in being sons of God — 
all this is the great drama of lifci passing 
once more to youth through death and the 
grave, in mystic commemoration of which the 
associations are formed. All that obtained an 
official recognition in the Eleusinian mysteries 
is found with endless variations in these 
obscure circles of the old world — the eternal 
theme of the slain and resuscitated god. 
When we see oriental sun-worship penetrating 
these societies, when we find in Lydia two 
monuments of the holy fraternity of Zeus 
Mosphaltenos, the sun-god, we see once 
more, as in the cognate worship of Mithra, 
that the phenomenon of life is the basic 
thought of these bodies, in which religious 
and social instincts are blended. 

The historical significance of these Thiasic 
societies has been estimated at very different 
values. If we look merely at the surface of 
their social life, we may agree with the writers 


of the Empire in their severe strictures on the 
Thiasic cult, just as the older Greeks had 
raised an energetic but unavailing protest 
against the admission of foreign oriental 
deities into the country. The mild ecstasy 
into which these orgiastic celebrations plunged 
their participants, the nocturnal darkness that 
shrouded their secret assemblies, the class- 
antagonism between the representatives of 
national interests and these religious inter- 
national feelings reaching to the lowest 
proletariate, enable us to understand very well 
the general hatred of contemporaries for these 
fraternities. The people of Rome looked on 
these nocturnal orgies as sacra myctelia, as 
ceremonies in honour of the god of night, and 
believed them to be excesses of shame and 
of the most unbridled licentiousness. The 
fenaticism of the priests of Cybele went so far 
as to demand self-emasculation ; and, as we 
learn from early Church history and the 
Gospels {Matt. xix. 12), these ascetic extrava- 
gances might spread to a wider circle. 

But the matter has another aspect when we 
look at it from the larger historical point of 
view. We must then subscribe to the con- 
clusion of Wescher,* who sees a stimulus 

■ Revue ArchioL, 1864) it. 460 ; 1865, ii. 




towards the construction of new social forms 
in these Eranic societies. He reduces their 
significance to three points — the fraternal 
character of the associations, the examination 
as a condition of entry, and the admission of 
women to equal rights with men. He says : — 

Is it not natural that in a period of moral and 
religious unrest, such as the Alexandrian period 
was, the number of societies should greatly 
increase? Is it surprising that many men and 
women abandon the official religion, which has 
sunk into impotence, and embrace this free, 
spontaneous, brotherly cult, which responds better 
to their secret aspirations ? We must seek the real 
cradle of this religious movement on Greek soil. 
It is a great honour for the Greeks to have given 
such examples to the world before the rise of 
Christianity. The common fund in these societies 
was for the purpose of mutual support, and there 
was a great solidarity among the members, the 
rich giving and the poor receiving. Indigence was 
no ground for exclusion. 

Karl Blicher, also, comes to the same 
conclusion : — 

If at that time (130 b.c.) these cults — the ancient 
natural religions of Asia Minor, of Dionysos and 
Aphrodite— were embodied in a large number of 
close societies and pious fraternities in Greece 
itself, what spread them so widely was, not so 
much the magic ocean of a restless sensuality into 
which an over-stimulated race would so easily 
plunge, as the equality of all members, whether 
Greek or barbarian, man or woman, free or slave ; 


a practice peculiar to these societies and quite alien 
to Greek sentiment.' 

In order to understand the further develop- 
ment of these social communities and their 
impregnation with new ethical-religious ideas, 
we must turn to another group of associations 
— the Jewish synagogues. The Romans 
regarded the synagogues as a special kind of 
hetairia, and so put them under the associa- 
tions-law. In his work on superstition 
Plutarch takes all these congregations 
together, whether they celebrate the Sabbath, 
like the Jews, or have any other form -of cult 
and religion that the Romans regard as 
slavish and barbaric.^ As a matter of fact, 
the same organising forces of the time are at 
work in the formation of the synagogues as in 
all the other congregations ; one may even 
describe the synagogues as Eranic bodies of a 
higher rank. They constitute the religious 
centre of the ordinary merchants' guilds, 
alongside of the Tyrian brothers of Heracles, 
who are soon eclipsed by the synagogues. 
This commercial situation, demanding an 
extensive traffic in money together with 
mercantile interests, must have been of great 

' Loc, cit, p. 116. " De supersiiitoney vii. 12, 13. 


importance in the economic development of 
the Empire. It would ensure the currency of 
mobile capital and lend support to the 
political leaders in their exploitation of the 
provinces. On this account the Jews were 
accorded great privileges in the Roman 
Empire, of which exemption from military 
service and other State burdens was not the 
least. When Caesar, who thought that the 
associations were becoming a menace to the 
State, sought to suppress all the other hetairia 
in Rome by a decree, he left intact the privi- 
leges of the Jews and "expressly excluded 
from the order the assemblies, funds, and 
institutes for meals of the Jews."^ The 
wealthy merchant families of Alexandria were 
the most astute financiers of the time. With 
their banks, loans, and credits, they controlled 
the nobles and knights, if not the court and 
the government. The Rabbinical schools at 
Rome had learned from Jerusalem the art of 
securing great influence and doing good 
business with their prayers. They had indeed 
incurred a dangerous odium on that account, 
and under Tiberius this brought the conscrip- 
tion for the Sardinian colonicB upon thousands 

' JosephuS) Antiquities, xiv. lo, 3, 8. 


of their fellows, and was always breaking out 
in eruptions of popular passion. But the 
influence of Jewish finance in the Roman 
Empire cannot seriously be questioned. The 
Jewish synagogue was the organisation of 
commercial capital. This capital was at the 
service of a rigidly inclusive system, in which 
the religious centralisation greatly supported 
the idea of an economic solidarity of all the 
members. As Hausrath says of the Jews : — 

They were egoistic in their interests, and were 
accustomed to seek the help of the Roman 
authorities against their townsmen. As a rule 
they obtained it, because it was consonant with 
the testament of Csesar and the traditions of the 
divine Augustus to continue in this matter the 
policy of the Ptolemies, which had seen in the 
Jewish colonicB the indispensable allies of the 
existing pow^ers. Hence the number of Jewish 
settlements increased more and more at the 
beginning of the Empire, and we must see in them, 
on account of their connection, a very powerful 
factor in the history of the time, placing its lever 
in the imperial court no less than in the poorest 
quarters of Rome or the remotest provinces. The 
all-important trade with the countries on the 
Euphrates was so completely in their hands that 
even diplomacy often made use of the great Jewish 
houses in Antioch, and the chief business at 
Alexandria, the export of corn to Rome, had fallen 
mainly into their hands. This situation was the 
more conspicuous as the Jews not only held rigidly 
aloof from the life about them, but maintained the 
connection with the chief centre of their own 



national and religious life. However much it was 
modified, the Jewish community abroad remained 
a piece of Israel, and the same customs were found 
in the hut of the small usurer and the palace of the 
great broker. The connection with the central 
state of the Jewish theocracy was maintained by 
even the most distant bodies. If they could not go 
to Jerusalem, they sent gifts of money, which were 
collected every year, received in the fore-courts, 
and conducted into the Temple with common 

While Judaism was thus a mutual-aid 
society, held together by the communistic 
tendencies of Mosaism and Messianism, and 
spread throughout the Roman Empire, Svith 
.3the several synagogues as paying-in counters, 
the Temple at Jerusalem as the central treasury, 
and all the servants of Jahveh as ideal sharers 
of it, we find the communistic feature of the 
religion most clearly in the Essenes of Pales- 
tine. Josephus puts the Essenes on a level 
with the Pythagorean communities of Greece, 
and praises, as a remarkably just custom that 
they have had for many years, their perfect 
communism of goods, so that the rich cannot 
enjoy more than the poor.' It is the radical 
communism that John the Baptist proclaims 
to be the will of Jahveh for all his country- 
men : " He who has two coats shall give to 

* Neutestameniliche Zeitgesckickte, ii. 93. 
' Antiquities^ xv. 10, 4; xviii. i, 5. 


him that has none; and he who has food shall 
do likewise " (Z«^^^ Hi. ii). When Josephus 
assigns as the cause of John's arrest and 
execution, differently from the Biblical narra- 
tive {Mark vi.), that Herod, seeing the mighty 
stream of people going out in the attraction of 
John's preaching, feared that he might excite 
the people to a tumult, as his advice seemed 
to be followed everywhere ; we can form some 
idea of the extent of the revolutionary propa- 
ganda of this communist preacher by the 

Thus the way was prepared for Christianity 
on every side. The figure of Chriist is drawn 
in all its chief features before a line of the 
Gospels was written. Philosophy has framed 
a general view of things, a metaphysical 
dualism, into which the Christ-figure is intro- 
duced. The economic situation at Rome has 
provided the explosive matter that will be 
discharged by Christianity ; and in the reli- 
gious brotherhoods we have the organising 
forces that direct all the currents of the time 
to the forming of the Christian communities. 
In this sense Christianity was naturally 
inevitable.' Historical evolution put life into 

' Antiquities, xviii. 5, 2. 


an organisation in which the incipient social 
fermentation of the Roman Empire combined 
with the religious and philosophic forces of 
the time, and created the new Christian 




Chapter VL 


That the community is the starting-point and 
the centre of Christianity can be clearly seen 
on an attentive reading of the New Testament. 
The existence of the community is assumed 
even by the Christ of the Gospel of Matthew, 
when he refers to it as the last appeal in all 
disputes between Christians, or when Peter is 
described as the foundation on which it will 
be built, so that the gates of hell may not 
prevail against it {Matt, xviii. 17 ; xvi. 18). 
According to Hausrath,' the mother of Jesus 
at the marriage-feast of Cana stands for the 
true Israel, the community of the pious, which 
has given birth to the Messias. In any case, 
the Christian community is, according to the 
so-called prayer of the high priest in the 
Fourth Gospel, the clearest possible expres- 
sion of the communist ideal, the absolute 

' Loc, ciU, iv. 412. 



unity of the members with each other, with 
God, and with Christ {John xvii. 21). In the 
Epistles known as Pauline everything turns 
on the community. It is the incarnation of 
Christ, the visible body of the Lord, who is 
the Spirit. It is in the community-life that 
Christ first has terrestrial existence. Whoever 
sins against the community sins against 
Christ, and its regulations are the directions 
of Christ. 

Now, the Christian communities are socie- 
ties, and must have been formed analogously 
to other societies of the time. They must be 
conceived as religious-social organisations 
after the manner of the time. They belong 
to the great category of the religious-social 
hetairia, the Eranistic societies, and the 
synagogue congregations. This throws a 
new light on the antagonism between Jewish- 
Christians and Gentile-Christians. We can 
easily distinguish between Christian com- 
munities that were developed from syna- 
gogues and those that were formed from 
the Thiasic corporations. In the former, the 
Messianism is at first confined to the Jewish 
communal life, the synagogue. In the latter, 
the common worship, even after it has assimi- 
lated Messianism, and so become Christian, 


remains faithful to the old Thiasic methodsy 
until the Messianic communities developing 
from synagogues admit the elements of the 
other organisations, are separated from the 
synagogues on that account, and amalgamate 
with societies of the second class. Indeed, 
Josephus shows how much the communal life 
of the synagogue may adapt itself outwardly 
to that of the Greco-Roman corporations 
when he gives us the instance of the powerful 
synagogue at Delos.* We find mention of 
Thiasic meals and of funds that are collected 
for these meals ; and it is expressly stated that 
the life of the synagogue at Rome ran on the 
same lines. 

We know very little about the particular 
procedure in the formation of these Christian 
communities, or the persons who were most 
active in the work. As a rule, they only come 
into the light of history when they are engaged 
in internal or external quarrels. Ecclesiastical 
tradition does, it is true, name a number of 
men who are supposed to have, as apostolic 
missionaries and evangelists, brought the 
communities into being ; but most of these 
names are of no historical value. On the 

' Antiquities, xiv. 10, 8. 


Other hand, we find a few covert notices in the 
Acts of the Apostles which should be of 
some use to us in studying the formation of 
the older communities, since they have escaped 
the influence of Church theology. We must 
put among the earliest fragments of the New 
Testament those parts of the Acts (from 
ch. xvi. onward) that give, with lengthy inter- 
ruptions, an account of the voyages of Paul 
in the first person plural. In this account — 
the " We-document " — which clearly comes 
from some travelling companion of the Tarsian 
preacher and Messianic propagandist, two 
important geographical points are mentioned 
as having communities that received the 
wanderers. It is said that disciples were 
found at Tyre, and that brothers were dis- 
covered at Puteoli {Acts xxi. 3, 4 ; xxviii. 14), 
Tyre was the centre of the merchants' cor- 
poration, a very extensive guild that had 
Hercules for patron, and still had stations at 
Puteoli in the later half of the second century 
after Christ' At Putfeoli, moreover, the slaves 
and freedmen on the imperial estates were 
organised, possibly under the protection of 
this Jewish merchants' guild, in a special 

' Liiders, op, cii,, p. 3a 


collegium, which had a particular personal 
and social aim, besides the ordinary functions 
of mutual aid and burial.' From this we 
may conclude that the inauguration of Chris- 
tian communities at first followed the route 
that was marked out by pre-Christian organi- 
sation ; and the formation of communities at 
Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus, Smyrna, and 
other places, points to the same conclusion. 
We must, therefore, regard the Christian 
communities as branches of the great tree of 
the guild-life of the time, developing organi- 
cally out of the existing societies, or growing 
out of the same ground beside them. The 
" disciples " at Tyre and the " brothers " at 
Puteoli were members of an organisation that 
pursued aims closely related to those of the 
Messianic preacher, if the organisation had 
not, indeed, already assumed a Messianic 

From this point of view, we can clearly 
understand the importance and the meaning 
of the name of Christ in the communities that 
bore it. Even if the first official notice of the 
Christians that we have — the letter of Pliny 
to Trajan {Ep. x.) — did not explicitly say that 

' Max Weber, loc, cit,^ p. 276. 


the Christians sang antiphons '* to Christ as a 
God " (Chrtsto quasi Deo)^ and so were to 
be numbered among the hetairia, or religious- 
social corporations, the whole early Christian 
literature without exception declares that from 
the first Christ was the centre of the communal 
cult. The very name of Christ indicates this, 
and it is even more clearly seen in the cir- 
cumstance that communities arose that called 
themselves after him, and united in honour 
of him.^ Christ could not possibly have come 
to occupy this position in the Christian com- 
munity as an historical individual, who had 
taught certain religious doctrine and ''founded" 
a Christian religion. There were, indeed, 
societies in the Roman Empire that took their 
names from a human individual, a philosopher, 
or a king. But Foucart shows that these 
societies were entirely different from those 
that assembled for a common cult and named 
themselves after their common hero.' A 
society founded by a Jewish rabbi, Jesus, 
might have named itself after him ; but in that 
case it would certainly not be a society for the 
purpose of worshipping him : no hymns 
would have been sung to him, and no eucharist, 

' Loc, city p. ^ note. 


or common meal, would have been celebrated 
in his honour. Moreover, the name of Christ 
had been so entirely raised into the sphere of 
legend by the Messianic Apocalypse that it 
\ could no longer be applied to a human indi- 

Hence liberal theology was bound to fail 
with the human Jesus which it postulates as 
founder of the Christian communities. The 
desperate position of advanced theologians in 
this respect may be seen very well in the 
following words of one of that school, R. 
Emde : " Which did Jesus claim — the mantle 
of the prophet or the crown of the Messias ? 
The opinions of the most distinguished 
authorities are acutely divided. Wellhausen 
writes that Jesus explicitly disavows the claim 
to be the Messias. Holtzmann says that the 
Gospel story loses its stoutest support if we 
relinquish the Messianic character of Jesus. 
Paul de Logarde observes that it did not 
occur to Jesus to put himself forward as the 
Messias ; while Harnack finds that this piece 
of the evangelical tradition — the Messianic 
character of Jesus — survives the closest 
scrutiny. The thesis of Johannes Weiss, that 
Jesus describes himself objectively as the one 
to whom the Messianic predicate of Son of 


Man fitly belongs, is rejected by Hans 
Lietzmann with the remark that ' Jesus never 
arrogated the Messianic title of Son of 
Man.' "I 

If the attempt to restrict the organising 
principle of the Christian communities — the 
Christ-idea — to a single individual leads to 
these absolute contradictions in the case of 
the leading authorities of historical theology, 
all working with the same philosophic means 
and exegetic methods, there must be some 
radical defect in the theory. Our theologians 
cannot agree whether the Jesus postulated by 
them declared himself to be Christ or warned 
people that he was not Christ ; whether they 
must consider the Christ-dignity as the highest 
point of the development of the human con- 
sciousness of Jesus or as a pathological con- 
comitant I In view of this situation, we may 
well disregard the passages lately adduced 
from profane Latin writers in supposed witness 
to the historical Jesus of Nazareth until our 
learned theologians are agreed at least as to 
whether this Jesus claimed, or expressly 
repudiated, the name of Christ. How little 
the early Christians thought of identifying 

* Jesus of Nazareth^ Prophet or Messias^ p. 6. 


their Christ-god, their titular hero, with an 
historical person is seen from the fact that 
there is a complete confusion among the early 
pictures of Christ. Victor Schultze says in 
regard to the oldest figures in the cata- 
combs : " Christ, in the character of the Good 
Shepherd, is not conceived as the teacher and 
leader of Christendom in the early Christian 
images, but as lord and protector of the dead, 
whom he hides from the power of death and 
conveys to the green meadows of Paradise. 
It seems probable that in the development of 
this idea there was some admixture of the 
later pagan notion of Hades as the benevolent 
host of the nether world and shepherd of the 
dead."" When it is further stated in the 
description of the Christian idea of the 
shepherd that " the Good Shepherd is almost 
always found with one or other pastoral 
utensil, such as the milk-can, wallet, staff, 
or flute," we can recognise in the Good 
Shepherd, the protective deity of the Chris- 
tian communities, a modification of Attis, the 
lover of the mother of the gods, the protective 
deity of many of the Lydo-Phrygian associa- 
tions, who always has pastoral emblems on 

' Foucairtf Die Kaiacomben, p, 113. 


the images — the crooked stafF, the syrinx, and 
sometimes cymbals and pipes/ Attis was 
also the host of the nether world ; he greeted 
the dead that winter sent there, and rose 
again from the dead in spring, like the 
Christ-god. Karl Botticher finds an Orpheus- 
Christ: ^'Christian theology in the earliest 
specimens of plastic art represents the Saviour 
in the image of Orpheus, in the full sentiment 
of the Greek myth, who drew to him all the 
animals of the wood and field by the sound of 
his lyre."*" When the gospel type of the 
Jewish carpenter at length takes shape, the 
Greek-hero type remains alongside of it, and 
the two are in the end combined in the 
canonical type, the crucified and resuscitated 
Jesus, who was neither Jew nor Greek. 

Thus the Christian community shares with 
all the religious-social bodies of antiquity the 
fundamental principle of association for the 
purpose of a cult. Their Christ is the patron 
of the community, the genius of the society, 
giving his name to those who unite to do him 
honour. The thoroughly modern idea of 
religion as personal life and experience will 
give no clue whatever to the nature of early 

' Foucart, op. cit., p. 92. 

' Aus dem Festteben der HeUenen, p. 21. 


Christianity.- Religion only becomes a per- 
sonal life in this sense in an age that has 
differentiated into personalities; and it is so 
only in proportion to the advance of this 
differentiation. From the first religion appears 
as a social function of life. It is race-religion, 
or State-religion, and this social character 
naturally passes on to the free associations 
that are formed within the limits of the race 
or State. Hence the liberal theologian's talk 
of personality as the support of all religious 
life is absurd and unhistorical as far as the 
origin of Christianity is concerned, because 
that system has its roots entirely in the com- 
munity or congregation. Personal religion \ 
was only evolved out of this social religion in '. 
the course of centuries, and could only replace ; 
the older form after severe struggles. What 
the religious person calls Christianity to-day « 
— 9L religion of the individual, a personal heal- 
ing principle — would have seemed folly to the 
early Christians. Such a thing was to them a 
sin against the Holy Spirit that would never 
be forgiven, because the Holy Spirit was the 
spirit of church-unity, of religious concentra- 
tion, of the absolute subordination of the 
flock under the shepherds. In early Chris- 
tianity there could only be personal religion 


by the mediation of the society or church. 
An independent cultivation of personal reli- 
gion was heresy, or separation from the body 
of Christ. 

Even when the prophet of the Old Testa- 
ment gives expression to his firmest religious 
conviction, Jahveh the people's God is behind 
him, and what Jahveh says to him is not a 
private concern of the prophets. His words 
are not directed to the individual, but to the 
community, and are in fact the religious 
expression of the social conscience in the 
living prophet. 

The original affinity of the Christian com- 
munity to the Thiasic and Eranic cult>asso- 
ciations can also be seen in the peculiar form 
of the earliest organisations. Among the 
Christians we find the Eranic meal as an 
integrating element of the common life, and 
in it is celebrated the memory of the common 
hero in the rite of a sacrificial meal. The 
further details of the Christian eucharistic 
celebration show plainly that this common 
meal must be conceived analogously to the 
Eleusinian mysteries, the cult of life that is 
born again from the dead. The figure of a 
Messianic Eranos is seen clearly in the 
description of the ceremonial supper in i Cor. 


xi. 16. The extravagances, the licentiousness 
and drunkenness, that are so often associated 
with the Thiasic meals at a later period are not 
wanting. The ecstasies that were customary in 
orgiastic celebrations are found in the descrip- 
tion of the gift of tongues (i Cor. xiv. 5-19), 
and it is mentioned (v. 14) that ecstasy some- 
times rises to the degree of frenzy. Ratzinger 
expressly describes the Christian common 
meal as a subordinate Eranos : " The wealthy 
brought what was needed, and the poor were 
invited to partake of it. All took their places 
at the table, over which the bishop presided — 
men and women, powerful and lowly, master 
and slave. The meal opened with prayer, 
and they ate, as TertuUian says, only to 
appease their hunger, and drank in modera- 
tion."* The description given in i Cor, xi. 
shows that the reality did not always corre- 
spond to this ideal. It must have been in 
view of these ecstatig and orgiastic excesses 
that the apostolic letter converts into a 
common decree, or precept of the Lord, 
the command that women shall keep silent at 
the gatherings. 
The practice of hospitality, of almsgiving. 

' Geschichte der Christlichen Armenpflege, p. 66. 



and of benevolence, that is so often urged 
upon the Christian community is also quite 
within the programme of the Thiasic societies ; 
so is the granting of loans. The burial of 
dead members that was undertaken by the 
Thiasic societies must also originally have 
been practised by the Christian congregations, 
as we gather from the polemic of the Gospels 
{Luke ix. 60 ; Matt. viii. 22) against the practice 
and the later development of the Church into 
a comprehensive cemetery. Kolde comes 
very near to the truth when he says : " The 
fraternities are very old, and when we con- 
sider their close resemblance to the religious 
associations of the Greeks and the Romans, 
which were formed for the cult of some deity 
or other, dedicating altars to them and cele- 
brating their festivals, we are disposed to trace 
the Christian fraternities directly to those of 
the heathens. " " What he says of the Christian 
fraternities leads directly to the other religious 
associations of the Greeks and Romans. To 
allow oneself to be baptised for the dead in 
order to enable the dead to share in the 
blessings of the Christian community is a 
practice mentioned in the first Epistle to the 

' Die kirklichen Brudersckaften unddas religiose Leben im 
modemen KathoUzismus, p. 6. 


Corinthians (xv. 29), and is quite on the same 
footing as the later practice of saying masses 
for the dead. 

Finally, we also find in the Messianic 
Thiases the tributary obligation of members, 
the common tax. This is by no means a 
temporary gift to meet the casual need of 
some community, but an essential part of the 
organisation, according to 2 Cor. viii. and ix. 
It is at first voluntary, not an obligation for 
which one is liable to be brought before the 
judge, like the contributions that were made 
by the members of an Eranos. Tertullian 
especially boasts of this voluntary character : 
" Each one brings a fitting gift on any day of 
the month that he can or will, and as he wills. 
No one is compelled, but all bring freely. 
They are the offerings of piety. The object 
is not to divide them for meals or drinking or 
shameless excesses, but to support the needy or 
provide burial for them when they die."" But 
this voluntary character is supported by a 
definite obligation, as is clear from the Epistles 
to the Corinthians. It is only the amount of 
the offering that is left to the individual ; the 
obligation to offer something is fixed ; and 

' ApoU^, 39. 


very soon a more or less specific rule is drawn 
up in the communities, enjoining that the 
offerings be laid on the altar during the cere- 
monial meal. Further, each participant has to 
undergo a purifying examination and the rite 
of the sacred bath before he is admitted. He 
then becomes a member of the community, 
subject to the common decrees ; and in case 
of misdemeanour he is subject to the peni- 
tentiary discipline, and eventually excom- 
munication by the community, just as was 
customary in the Eranic societies. 

Thus the Christian community belongs 
entirely, as regards its form, to the class of 
religious-social bodies that were spread over 
the whole Roman Empire ; but from the first 
it contains the reforming forces that are 
destined to lift it above all the others and 
make it the base of a new social order. There 
is no question but that the whole mystery of 
these forces lay in the fundamental religious 
principle of the Christian organisation — the 
belief in Christ ; and that therefore it was 
mainly religious impulses that led to the 
victory over the olden civilisation, though it 
must be added that what constituted the 
strength of the principle in this victory 
became the limitation and the weakness of 


Christianity in its further development. All 
the deities and heroes in whose honour the 
Eranic societies were formed were part of an 
antiquated philosophy. They had passed the 
zenith of their career, and only dominated 
actual life out of the recesses of the past. But 
in the Messianic system the future was alive. 
The Christ-god is the one who is to come, for 
whom the world must prepare. Christ, as an 
actually worshipped common deity, belongs 
to the sphere of the religious life of a certain 
age. He struggles for recognition ; first for 
the recognition of his equality with other 
divinities, then for a paramountcy over all the 
inferior gods of the Empire. But, as the 
Christ whose second coming is expected by 
the community, the congregational god 
includes from the first the capacity to become 
the cosmic divinity, the Christ of the Church, 
equal to the Father in all things. 

Thus the belief in Christ spreads the 
Messianic hope among the organised masses. 
It captures the hearts that are sick of the past 
and full of despair for the present. This 
hope for the future is very real in the earlier 
communities. It embraces all the ideals of 
life that had appeared either in Greek philo- 
sophy or Jewish theology, realisation of which 


was ardently awaited by the whole proletariate 
of the time, disinherited by the economic 
development The trend of these ideals is 
towards a world without hunger and poverty, 
without masters or slaves, a communistic 
world in which " no one will call anything 
his own, but all things are in common " 
{Acts ii. 44 ; iv. 32). To this communistic- 
messianical ideal the community adds a new 
economic principle — ^the worth of labour and 
the restriction of the right of consumption to 
those that work and produce. That "the 
labourer is worthy of his hire " was a maxim 
stated long before in Deuteronomy, and the 
whole of the enslaved and free workers of the 
Roman Empire looked to the fulfilment of it 
as a redemption from oppression and injustice. 
In the Apostolic letters, too, it was the duty 
of the cleric to work with his own hands, 
though in other respects the rule had been 
established that the servant of the community 
should be maintained by the community 
(i Cor. ix. 6) ; this was already a Thiasic rule. 
In the parable of the workers in the vine- 
yard the Messianic community formulates its 
economic programme — namlely, that the same 
wage shall be paid for quite different amounts 
of labour {Matt. xx. i). Aug. Oncken rightly 


observes that in its proclamation of the rights 
and worth of labour the Christian community 
provided the bridge to the ancient Germanic 
idea, the principle of the free community.' 
While all possession was founded on might 
by the Romans, so that the right of ownership 
really amounted to a right of spoliation, the 
Germans held that there was an equal duty of 
activity for all the members of an economic 

In this way the Christian form of social life 
outstrips the older Thiasic societies. It is no 
longer merely an association for the discharge 
of certain important social functions. It is a 
self-contained social structure, a fraternity; 
not only in the older sense in which Hero- 
dotus at times gives the name to two races 
that follow a common cult, not merely in the 
later sense of the brothers of the Common Life, 
but in a comprehensive religious, ethical, and 
social sense. On that account the community 
sets up its own courts, and holds aloof from 
Roman jurisdiction. The saints that are to 
judge the world must not take their cases 
before secular judges. When any quarrel 
arises in the community someone must be 

' Geschichte der NationalSkanomie, p. 74. 


chosen within its bounds to decide between 
the disputing brothers (i Cor. vi.). The 
Messianic community's consciousness of sove- 
reignty girts it about like a wall. The more 
self-sufficing it feels itself to be in its organisa- 
tion, the less need it has of the larger political 
organism in which it is placed. The cor- 
porate principlci which caused a certain 
rivalry to the State in every Thiasis, is here 
pushed to its extreme consequences. It is a 
State within a State, a new economic union 
on a social basis, growing up within the old 
society with its agrarian basis. 

However, this communal order, the original 
form of which is spoiled by later modifications, 
involved from the first the contradiction 
between the ideal expectation of the future 
and the actual historical conditions. The 
Christian expression for this is the contra- 
diction between the belief in Christ's second 
coming and the fact that he did not come. 
This contradiction must be regarded as the 
evolutionary principle of early Christianity. 
In fact, the first phase of its development that 
is historically known to us turns on this very 
contradiction. The Christianity of which we 
have the historical sources in the New Testa- 
ment, and that first deserves the name in the 


narrower sense, became a reality because it 
had to face this contradiction. It is mainly 
distinguished from the older Jewish Messianism 
by the fact that, in its struggles with its 
opponents, in the doubt as to the second 
coming of Christ that history excited, it came 
to a new consciousness of its own life. 

The Biblical documents make it perfectly 
plain that the whole principle of Biblical 
Christianity lies in the death and resurrection 
of Christ. The Gospels point from the start 
towards the tragedy of the Cross. Their 
central idea is that Christ must die and rise 
again. This idea is directly connected in the 
Gospels with the confession of Christ ; it 
overshadows even the story of the birth as a 
sort of presage of the suflfering that awaits the 
new-born child. The Epistles, especially the 
four that bear the name of Paul — one to the 
Romans, the two to the Corinthians, and one 
to the Galatians — which make plainer even 
than the Gospels the dependence of Chris- 
tianity on the death and resurrection of Christ, 
clearly intimate that this death and resur- 
rection of Christ is not an individual 
experience, but one of the community. The 
death and resurrection of Christ is completely 
identified with the death and resurrection of 


the community. Through baptism the com- 
munity is buried with Christ, in order that it 
may awake with Christ to a new life. The 
Christian congregation sees the fulfilment in 
itself of the words, " For thy sake are we slain 
the whole day long, and led like sheep to the 

But it is also conscious of victory, and is 
confident that it will triumph over all the 
forces of life. Just as Christ was crucified in 
weakness, yet lives in the strength of God, so 
all those who are weak in him live also in the 
strength of God {Rom. vi. 3, viii. 36 ; i Cor. 
XV. 4 ; Gal. ii. 20). Even in the Gospels the 
carrying of the Cross is made an indispensable 
condition of discipleship, and of expectation of 
the glory of Messianic life. In the Epistles 
Christ is the head, the community the body. 
But the head is one member of the body ; it 
is as little without a body as the body is 
without a head. In the Gospel of John 
Christ is the vine ; the community represents 
the branches. But the vine is made up of 
branches, and cannot be conceived apart I It 
is said in the Synoptics, "He who heareth 
you heareth me, and he who despiseth you 
despiseth me." Here, again, Christ lives in 
his disciples, his community. What the 


Gospels give in the form of a history of Christ 
is the same thing that the Epistles give as 
theological doctrine and communal Christian 
right — the Christian community's sense of its 
oneness with Christ. This sense is based on 
the fact that the community experiences death 
and resurrection, is crucified and raised again 
from the dead. 

In a sociological study of Christianity we 
are not called upon to discuss when and how 
the various historical episodes took place that 
inspired the community with this faith in 
Christ. It would make no difference to 
sociology if an individual experience — the 
crucifixion of a Jesus under Pontius Pilate, or 
an episode from the revolt of Judas of Galilee' 
— had been introduced into this Christ-story 
of the Gospels. There were Messianic 
agitations and pretenders to the dignity 
crucified every year among the Jews. We 
need only point out that this individual 
experience is isolated from that of the 
community, yet subordinated to it and 
substituted for it. However many Jews and 
slaves were put to death on the cross, the 
crucified Christ of the New Testament is not 

' Of. Acts V. 36 and Josephus, Antiquities, xviii. i, 
XX. 5, 2. 



a single one of their number. He is the ideal 
connecting link of them all in the crucifixion 
of the Christian community, and it is very 
probable that this experience has its historical 
background and Biblical conclusion in the 
persecution under Trajan. In the Neronian 
persecution the civic position of the Christians 
in the Roman Empire hardly calls for con- 
sideration. We have in it only the brutal act 
of a half-demented ruler, the vagueness of all 
current information about the Christian 
community making it easy for popular fury to 
be turned on them. Even under Domitian 
the idea of the Christians is so vague that 
they cannot be distinguished from the Jews. 
A regular judicial procedure against the 
Christians, such as is assumed in the Gospels 
{Matt. X. 18-20; Mark xiii. 11 and 12 ; Luke 
xxi. 12-14), only begins under Trajan, when 
the Christians first become confident that perse- 
cution will not destroy but ennoble them — 
that, in other words, death will be followed 
by resurrection. 

Then the apologists begin their literary 
defence against the heathens. There must 
have been a definite attack before there could 
be a defence. It is true that the Gospels in 
their story of suffering have associated the 


earlier mishaps of the Christians with the 
experiences of Messianic prophets ; but that is 
for them merely the way of the cross, the 
ascent of Golgotha, not the process itself that 
denied the Christian faith the right to exist in 
the Roman State. Moreover, in the Gospel- 
narrative death and resurrection are insepar- 
able. But there can be no resurrection for a 
Jew crucified under Pontius Pilate ; there can 
be at the most only a vague hypothesis of a 
vision, quite devoid of historical reality, or 
the familiar refuge in theological phrases. 
Yet for the community the resurrection was 
real and actual. It was not destroyed in the 
persecution, but restored to new strength and 
life. The old nature-myth of the dying and 
reviving god had at last found a human, 
ethical, and social expression in this actual 
Christ-story. This crucified and resuscitated 
god was now the soul, the spiritual life-force, 
of Christian humanity. But in this belief in 
their living and ever-present Christ, which 
was fostered by the official persecutions, we 
have the radical significance that the Christian 
community attached to itself. The common 
organisation, as the incarnation of the Christ- 
god, claimed unrestricted rights, and it 
was merely a theological presentation and 


establishment of these rights when the com- 
munity attributed to Christ an existence 
before and beyond the world. 

The chief documents for this first phase of 
the development of the Christian organisation 
are the Epistles, especially the four principal 
Pauline Epistles. German theology still 
clings obstinately to the older tradition that 
at least these four Epistles were written by 
Paul, the cloth-maker of Tarsus and wander- 
ing preacher, between the years 53 and 62, 
and has made many concessions in order to 
maintain the unity of these documents. But 
when Henke (quoted above) declares, in his 
attempt to establish the Biblical Jesus from 
profane Latin literature, that the genuineness 
of these Epistles is universally admitted, he is 
quite wrong. The traditional view of the 
Pauline Epistles has some very weighty 
opponents, especially among the Dutch theo- 
logians — Pierson, Loman, Meyboom, Matthes, 
etc. In a searching study of the Epistle to 
the Galatians^ which is extended by critical 
notes to the chief Pauline Epistles, R. Stech 
(of Berne) is forced to deny that any of them 
were written by Paul. He points out that 
De Wette had shown long ago that the 
Pauline Epistles, even the principal ones. 


fared no better than the Gospel of John in 
regard to external authority, and he then con- 
cludes that the Pauline Epistles, which have 
hitherto been regarded as the work of one 
man, should rather be looked upon as the 
work of a school, in which was developed the 
main theme of Paulinism, the tendency to 
greater freedom from the law. 

That liberal theology, which with a light 
heart denied the Pauline authorship of all the 
other Epistles ascribed to him (with some 
reserve in the case of the Epistle to the 
Philippians\ and threw back other important 
New Testament writings to the middle, if not 
the end, of the second century, has not been 
able to break free from the old tradition in 
regard to the chief Epistles, is due, as Stech 
points out, to the dependence of the critical 
school on its Tubingen founder, Ferdinand 
Baur. Baur suspended his critical work at 
these Epistles, because he thought he had 
found in them the key to the antagonism that 
in his theory shaped early Christianity — the 
antagonism between Jewish and Pagan Chris- 
tians. In this way the old tradition continued 
unobserved in the new school, even long after 
the theory for the sake of which Baur had 
clung to the Pauline authorship of these 



Epistles had been abandoned. The Acts of the 
Apostles may belong in its present form to 
the latest group of Biblical literature, yet its 
testimony must not be overlooked or dis- 
regarded, as is done by liberal theologians, 
the moment it differs from a passage in the 
Epistles. In one important point the witness 
of the Acts proves strikingly superior to that 
of the Epistles — namely, in its complete silence 
as to any literary activity on the part of the 
apostle, though the far greater part of the 
work is . devoted to him. It dwells most 
minutely on the various stations in Paul's 
wanderings, and all the possible and impos- 
sible things that happened to him ; but it 
never says a word about his having written 
letters or entered into correspondence with his 
communities. v,^r^ 

Yet these Epistles were no private letters, 
but documents of the highest importance for 
the communities mentioned in the ActSy the 
foundation of which is attributed to Paul. 
His voyages are supposed to have been 
jotted down in a diary — the " We-document " 
in the Acts — in which there are detailed 
notices of the ships he sailed in, but none 
whatever about these important letters I When 
Paul, in the Acts^ comes to Rome, he is so 


completely unknown there that he has to 
introduce himself, and no one knows anything 
of any brother that has come to say anything 
ill about him. Yet we are asked to believe 
that he had written to them that classic monu- 
ment of early Christian theology, the Epistle 
to the Romans^ several years before ! Indeed, 
the traditional view can be refuted out of the 
Epistles themselves. The fact that they bear 
the name of Paul will prove nothing to those 
who are acquainted with the literary devices 
of the time. There was no such thing in 
those days as literary proprietorship. To 
write under an assumed name was supposed 
to be an act of homage to the one whose 
name you chose. The whole of antiquity had 
the custom of selecting the name of a writer 
merely to indicate summarilya certain tendency 
or spirit. Hence the occurrence of the name 
of Paul should not mislead anyone, as every- 
body admits in the case of the lesser Pauline 
Epistles and the other Epistles in the New 
Testament that have the name of an apostle. 

First, then, as regards the Epistle to the 
GalatianSy our theologians seek in vain for a 
passage by means of which the account of the 
missionary journeys in the Acts can be recon- 
ciled, without strain, with the dates given in 


the Epistle itself. It must seem strange that 
the writer of the Epistle, who is supposed to 
have been long known to those he addresses 
as the founder and apostle of their community, 
speaks of his life in the first chapter just as if 
the Galatians had never heard of him before. 
He creates a serious difficulty for our liberal 
theologians— of the " Life of Jesus " school — 
by boasting of it as a special distinction that he 
asked nothing of the men who could have given 
him all information about the historical Jesus ; 
he merely meets them casually, and enters at 
once upon his apostolate. Yet this Paul is 
so convinced of the Gospel that he announces, 
without having learned it from the apostles at 
Jerusalem, that he pronounces malediction on 
any man that preaches a different one I That 
is hardly consistent with the idea of a man 
who still bears on his soul the scars of a 
profound spiritual struggle. The animosity 
against Peter and the other apostles at Jeru- 
salem does not seem to be founded on certain 
experiences during the course of his aposto- 
late, but is clearly caused from the first by his 
own call to the Gospel. 

In the Epistle to the Romans even the 
simplest issues are so confused for the liberal 
theologians that the elementary question. 


whether the letter is directed to a circle ot 
converts from Judaism or from Paganism, 
divides them into two camps. In the 
Tubingen theology it is regarded as certain 
that the letter was originally addressed to Jew 
Christians, while the Erlangen school teaches 
the opposite. They overlooked the con- 
spicuous circumstance that the Epistle to the 
Romans is a really Catholic one, a monumental 
exposition of the theology of the Roman 
Church. It has in view, in its comprehensive 
universalist tendency, not a narrow, local type 
of community, but the establishment of the 
idea of Catholicism. The real features of the 
local Roman community are known to us 
from the Clementine literature and the Pastor 
of Hermas. From the latter work especially, 
which, according to an old tradition recorded 
by Origen, was written by the Hermas who is 
mentioned as a pupil of Paul in the last 
chapter of the Epistle to the Romans^ we 
learn something about the ideas of this local 
community down to the middle of the second 
century. The theology of Hermas is entirely 
Judseo-Christian. It betrays no acquaintance 
whatever with the ideas of the Epistle to the 
Romans^ and in its emphasis of the number 
of the apostles as twelve has no place 


whatever for the apostolic authority of Paul. 
If the community in the city of Rome had 
already possessed the canonical Epistle to the 
Romans more than half a century, the 
Clementine vagaries and the work of Hermas 
would have been impossible. 

Recent liberal theologians divide the Epistle 
to the Romans into two parts, which are 
regarded as more or less independent, and 
must have had different authors. The two 
closing chapters, which give the local tone 
proper, were declared by Ferdinand Baur 
himself to be a later addition and not written 
by Paul. But this very diversity in the 
different parts is in keeping with the character 
of a Catholic epistle. The " City of God," in 
which all the peoples of the earth will be 
gathered on the lines laid down — that bestows 
happiness dn all its members — shines clearly 
from the whole letter. In it, again, the old 
antithesis of faith and works is bridged over ; 
the theology of justification by faith is just as 
decisively vindicated in chapter iv. as is the 
claim of good works in chapter ii. Such 
catholicity as this is very far removed from 
the fresh and still primitive Christian move- 
ment that liberal theology sees in the apostle 


Paul is believed to have been at Corinth for 
the first time about the year 53, to have 
remained there a year and a half, and to have 
visited it at least twice afterwards. However 
we may arrange the chronology, we must, in 
any case, if Paul is the author of the Epistles 
to the Corinthians^ admit an interval of six 
years between the first stay at Corinth and the 
composition of the first Epistle, as we have to 
conceive Paul in captivity at Csesarea about 
the year 60. And we are asked to believe 
that the situation which evoked the letter was 
developed in a newly-founded Christian 
community in these few years ! A Petrine 
party is supposed to have arisen at once at 
Corinth, so that disciples of Peter must have 
followed on the heels of Paul. The first 
Epistle affirms that there are people at Corinth 
who say, " We are for Peter." The letter also 
recognises a clergy that stands apart from the 
community with full hierarchical self-con- 
sciousness. The writer calls himself a follower 
of Christ quite in the sense of the apostolic 
succession, and on this ground demands that 
the community shall follow him (i Cor. xi. i). 
The colleagues in whose names the writer 
speaks regard themselves as real clerics, as 
preachers in the place of Christ. They are 



the masters of the divine mysteries. God has 
revealed to them what no other human mind 
has discovered. Hence the cleric stands in 
the place of Christ. In virtue of his vocation 
he gives his rule as the command of the Lord, 
and he expects obedience of the community in 
all things, because it is Christ who speaks in 

The earlier Christian maxim, that no one 
must be called father on earth, is already 
violated. There are, it is true, many shepherds, 
but not many fathers, in the community ; yet 
the cleric has a right to be recognised as the 
one who has engendered the community in 
Christ (i Cor. iv. 15). There is an organised 
cult at the gatherings of the community, in 
which the laity respond "Amen** to the 
psalm sung by the cleric (i Cor. xiv. 16). 
Thus the letters, which are unmistakably 
made up of a number of independent letters, 
indicate a state of things that could not 
possibly have developed during the period 
allowed by the accepted chronology, and that 
clearly marks the transition from the sovereign 
community to the hierarchic Church. How- 
ever, the community rules are not yet rigidly 
fixed. The letter gives certain directions that 
it would be useful to follow, but that cannot 


be imposed as canonical rules, like what are 
called the Lord's commands (i Cor. vii. 6, 25). 
As precepts of the Lord the first Epistle names 
the canonical rule that the women shall be 
silent in the gathering, and the prescriptions 
by which worship is secured against dis- 
turbance from ecstatic phenomena (i Cor. xiv. 
37). The regulation of the Eucharist is also 
based on a saying of the Lord (i Cor. xi. 23). 
To the apostolic authority the word of " the 
Lord " is much the same as the word of 
Jahveh was to the older prophet, and this 
also was sometimes announced as the word of 
" the Lord " (Isaiah i. 10 ; Zeph. i. i). But 
these rules of the Lord are either not found 
at all in the Gospels, or only in a radically 
different form. Thus, for instance, the 
Gospel gives the right of matrimony from the 
man's side as a saying of Christ, and the first 
Epistle to the Corinthians from the woman's 
side ; the latter at least recognising the right 
of the woman to leave her husband, provided 
she does not contract a fresh marriage/ 

If the letters to the Corinthians are to be 
regarded as collections of community-decrees, 
we seem to be in a position to estimate their 

' Mark X. 2-9 ; Matt. v. 32, xix. 4-6 ; i Cor. vii. la 


undation of 
(2 Cor. vii 

misation th^ 
" the Teachh^^ 
•cntury wo* 
e communit 
ic first result 
the teacher 


place in the whole process of the development 
of the community's life. They indicate the 
transition from the voluntaty service of the 
community to the professional caste of officials. 
This inevitable evolution seems to be indicated 
in the Epistle to the Galatians, which R. 
Steck rightly regards as the latest of the four 
chief Pauline Epistles. In this we find the 
rule (vi. 6) : " Whoever is instructed in the 
word shall share his goods with the one who 
instructs him " ; whereas the practice of the 
apostolic wandering preacher was quite different 
from this. The letters to the Corinthians 
afford us a glimpse at the time of the transi- 
tion from one custom to the other. Personally, 
the Pauline writer adheres to the earlier 
practice ; he works with his own hands, and 
so maintains himself by his own trade (i Car. 
iv. 12 ; ix. 15). But this personal independence 
makes him all the more energetic in claiming 
that the service of the community shall be a 
remunerated profession (i Cor. ix. 7-14). At 
the same time we see how the primitive com- 
munism, which had proved a hindrance to 
the common life according to the parable of 
the rich young man in the Gospel, had been 
converted into a more or less regulated system 
of contributions, or offerings to be brought 


on certain days, and so the foundation of a 
common fund has been laid (2 Cor. viii. 
and ix.). 

It is the same process of organisation that 
has led in the thirteenth chapter of the Teaching 
of the Twelve Apostles ^ a second-century work, 
to the rule that the members of the community 
shall bring their " first fruits " — the first results 
of their economic production — to the teachers 
of the community. 

Chapter VIL 


If we are to Appreciate great historical con- 
nections, we need nrst of all to make a 
general survey of the characteristic features 
of the whole province of life under considera- 
tion. The traveller looks down from his high 
point of vantage over the general structure of 
the country that lies at his feet before he 
proceeds to study it in detail. Historical 
inquiry too often proceeds in the opposite 
direction. It restricts itself within a narrow 
philological sphere, and declines to look out 
on the broad world of human experience. 
Above all things, specialists will not under- 
stand that history is a whole, and that the 
several phenomena must be appraised as 
expressions of the life-spirit that presides 
over the historical development. Historical 
specialists of the old school have little sym- 
pathy with each other. Each works his own 
field, just as if it had nothing to do with the 



On this account the work of explaining the 
origin of the Christian Church as a whole has 
not yet been accomplished. The theologians 
who have written the history of the early 
Church regard it entirely as a theological 
institution. The economic and social develop- 
ment that accompanies the origin of the 
Church lies outside their field of study, and 
does not, in their opinion, enter into the 
formation of the Church. It is true that 
Plank of Gottingen had tried in his great 
work (1803) to give us an account of the 
history of Christian society, but the narrow 
Protestant position from which he started 
causes him to regard the social side of Church- 
life as an aberration from the religious ideal 
of the Church ; and the more narrowly Pro- 
testant theology studied Christianity in its 
own interest, the less hope there was of its 
giving us an estimate of the whole Catholic 
Church, embracing all spheres of life in a 
Christian unity. Political economy dare not 
take up the economic study of the early 
Church ; it halts at a domain which an ancient 
tradition exempts from profane research and 
reserves for theology. It has left the whole 
province of theology untouched, as if it had 
nothing to do with the economic and social 


life of the Church. Hence, even where 
political economy touches the economic life 
of the Church, it avoids any historical appre- 
ciation of the life of the early Church, as if 
this were quite a unique and peculiar phase of 
economic history, Sommerlad {Das Wirt- 
schafts-programm der Kirche des MittelalterSj 
1903) is wholly dominated by Protestant theo- 
logy. He is bound by a theological exegesis 
which is, on its side, greatly concerned lest 
modern Socialists should find any support for 
their tenets in the principles of the early 
Church. This apologetic interest prevents 
the author from giving us a sound historical 
appreciation of the economic development of 
the Church. Brentano also {Ethik und Folks- 
v)irthschaftslehrey 1902 ; and Die wirth- 
schaftlichen Lehren des christlichen Alter-- 
thums, 1902) studies the economic develop- 
ment of the Church from the modern point of 
view, and arrives at the erroneous conclusion 
that, as the medieval writers who dealt with 
economic matters were moral philosophers, 
they were bound to take up a position of 
comparative hostility in indicating the natural 
position of man towards economic goods, and 
in regard to the main impulse to commerce 
and the further development of economic life. 



The position of man towards economic goods 
was just as natural in the Middle Ages as it is 
now ; the goods were different, and the man 
was different, but that is all. And this 
ecclesiastical form was just as soundly 
economic for the time, it corresponded as 
fully with the economic conditions of life then, 
as the unecclesiastical, capitalistic form does to 
ours. As far as I know, A, Onchen of Berne 
is the only one who has taken the ecclesiastical 
economic system as a special epoch of 
economic evolution, though his sketchy 
account of the connecting link between the 
economic and the theological side of church- 
life is very slight.' It is true that a number 
of recent theologians, especially of the Chris- 
tian Socialist school, have dealt with the 
economic life of primitive Christianity; but 
their interest is entirely due to their preoccu- 
pation with the social questions of our time. 
They want to find norms of economic life in 
the Bible or the Fathers, or to combat certain 
economic dogmas with weapons taken from 
the ecclesiastical arsenal. But the authority 
of the Bible is so paramount with them, and 
their belief in the absolute correctness of one 

' Geschichte der NationalSconomiet 1902. 


economic form so strong, that they have never 
properly conceived the task of studying the 
economic views of the Church in the living 
flow of economic development. In view of 
this situation the following attempt to study 
the social form of the Church as an organic 
whole, and to indicate a living contact between 
its dogmatic and its economic history, must, 
indeed, have the nature of an experiment, but 
an experiment that must be made if we are to 
have a correct idea of the general historical 
significance of the Christian Church. 

The Christian brotherhoods, out of which 
the Christian Church at length developed, 
differ according to their geographical position 
or their racial elements, as the Epistles clearly 
intimate. In some the apocalyptic is para- 
mount, in others the philosophy of the poor 
folk ; while in the Roman community a third 
element must be added to these Jewish and 
Greek elements — ^the spirit of a metropolitan 
proletariate. All three kinds are Messianic 
societies, and worship the Christ-god as their 
common hero. But the Christ-god appears 
under different national traits in each of them. 
Among the Jews he is the Son of Man that 
will come on the clouds of heaven ; to the 
Greeks he is the Logos of God, enlightening 


every man with a divine light ; at Rome he 
is the advocate of believers with God, the 
Paraclete. Just as the Hellenistic philosophy 
of religion arose out of the blending of the 
Hebrew and Greek spirit at the close of the 
fourth century before Christ, and had its 
centre in Alexandria, so the Christian culture 
was born of the permeation of Hellenism with 
Roman political and economic life. From 
the broader historical point of view there are 
three streams of culture in the Old World 
that meet in the Trinitarian Church, and the 
Church has dogmatically embodied their 
special vital principles in the Triune God. 
The first person of the Trinity looks towards 
Palestine, the second towards Greece, the 
third towards Rome. But these three persons 
are combined in one Deity ; a Trinitarian 
culture has been brought to a comprehensive 
unity in the Church. When the three streams 
of culture first meet they are all at the same 
stage of development. Roman politics, Greek 
philosophy, and Jewish theology speak the 
same thoughts in different characters. Under 
the cover of national features their various 
spirits press on to the common aim of 
humanity. Rome represents the principle of 
unity in a world-monarchy, in which all the 


parts are held together in subordination to the 
idea of right. Its religious embodiment is the 
Holy Spirit that stands for the unity of the 
Church, acts through the jurisdiction of the 
bishops, and finds expression in the decrees of 
Councils. Greece has created a philosophy 
in which the unity of the world is built up in 
thought, and all details are subordinated to 
the logical idea. Its representative is the 
Logos, the Son, the Reason of Gpd. 
Finally, Palestine gives the world theocratic 
Messianism, in which the unity of the world 
is brought about by the subordination of all 
life to the moral idea of justice. Its represen- 
tative is the Father, the Moral Legislator, the 
Creator and Ruler of the world. The spirits 
of Rome, Greece, and Palestine are united in 
the Catholic Church, and so the religious ideal 
of the Church, the Christ that lives in all 
its functions, is itself Trinitariao. He is a 
Triune God-Messias, Logos, and Pneuma. 

In the development of its Christology the 
growing Church harmonises the various 
features of these Christ-figures, and Rome 
creates, in the Christ of the Gospels, the form 
that unites in itself all the essential characters 
of the three. The Christ of the Gospels is 
entirely the ecclesiastical or Catholic Christ. 


He gives the rules of the canonical life; he 
reveals in himself the fundamental canonical 
virtues of poverty, chastity, and obedience. 
Poverty means emancipation from the service 
of Mammon, the voluntary surrender of all 
one's goods to the community. A correlative 
feature is almsgiving, which is openly rewarded 
by God, and, as in the sayings of the Old- 
Testament Jesus, is represented as an 
economic function of the communal life. 
Chastity means contempt of marriage, repu- 
diation of sense-life even to the extent of 
self-emasculation, asceticism in the sense of 
dualistic systems. Hence in the Gospels 
Christ opens his work with a forty days' fast ; 
he commends fasting as pleasing to God, and 
declares that it is a necessary rule of life until 
the second coming {Luke xiv. 20 ; MatL xix. 
12 ; V. 28", 29, and 39 ; Mark ii. 20). The 
obedience thaj the canonical Christ demands 
is absolute ; it leaves no room whatever for 
personal assertion or individual freedom. For 
Christ's disciples nothing must have any 
value in itself; their own life has no rights, 
nothing more to say to or to claim from those 
who have undertaken to follow Christ {Luke 
xiv. 33 ; Matt. x. 33). 

In the first three Gospels Christ is himself 



the embodied ideal of this canonical life. He 
creates the apostolate in order to spread and 
realise the canonical rules, and in the person 
of Peter chooses Rome as the rock on which 
the Church shall be built. The fourth Gospel, 
on the other hand, presents the glorification 
of this ideal from the standpoint of the Church. 
All private poverty, abstinence, and subjec- 
tion find their greatest glory in the Christian 
idea of unity, enlarged to a world communism, 
because what belongs to the whole belongs to 
the parts, and what is true of Christ is true 
also of his disciples and all that through them 
have a share in Christ {John xvi. and xvii.). 

This ecclesiastical ideal harmonises perfectly 
with its economic basis, and can only be 
understood in connection with it. Canonical 
poverty is only intelligible in relation to the 
early Christian communal life. It is not 
poverty in the modern sense, not pauperism 
as an accompaniment of individualist produc- 
tion ; it is an economic form of the social life. 
The community is supreme in all that pertains 
to it, and so is the ideal owner of all property. 
In the agape, the common meal, it has con- 
stituted itself a social consumer ; in the 
offerings and first-fruits it creates a communal 
property. The community is higher than the 


individual ; the more it asserts its ideal right 
of ownership, the richer it seems to be itself, 
the more truly are all its individual members 
poor. The common property is the property 
of the poor. Hence canonical poverty is only 
a special ecclesiastical expression of the com- 
munal economy. The Fathers do not declare 
property generally, and not the common 
property vested in the Church, but only 
private property, to be inconsistent with 
Christian sentiments. That the whole frame 
of mind of early Christianity was communistic, 
and only recognised social ownership as the 
foundation of ecclesiastical administration, has 
been fully proved by Brentano in his rectorial 
speech at Munich and his Untersuchungen 
liber die wirthschaftlichen Leben des christlichen 
Alterthums. The idea had already been 
advanced by L. Stein in his Die soziale Frage 
im Lichte der Philosophie (p. 238). A few 
passages may be quoted from these works : — 

God created men for brotherly community, he 
himself giving his son and surrendering the Logos 
as common good, giving his all to all men. Hence 
all is common, and the rich must not desire more 
than others. It is the will of God that all be 
enjoyed in common. It is not fitting that some 
should have a superabundance, while others are 
needy (Clement of Alexandria). 

All that God is has been given for the use of us 



who have usuq^ed it. No one is hindered from 
sharing the advantages, but the whole human race 
may equally enjoy God's goodness and generosity. 
The day lights the world for all, the sun shines, the 
rain moistens, the wind blows ; they that sleep 
have the same sleep, and common to all is the 
brilliance of the stars and the moon. The owner 
who follows this model, and shares his profits and 
fruits with his brethren, giving to all and rendering 
justice, imitates God the Father (Cyprian). 

Just as when one who has taken a place in the 
theatre thrusts aside all who enter afterwards in 
the idea that the seat which was common to all 
has become his property, so it is with the rich. 
They appropriate what is common to all, and call 
it theirs on the ground that they first came across 
it. If they would take only what is required for 
the satisfaction of their wants, and distribute the 
surplus among the needy, there would be no rich 
and no poor (Basil the Great). 

The same Father argues that the rich — that 
is to say, every man who has more than he 
really needs — is a thief and a robber, and then 
continues : — 

The bread thou hast belongs to the hungry, the 
mantle thou wearest belongs to the ill-clad, the 
shoes thou hast on belong to the unshod, the silver 
thou hast heaped up belongs to the needy. Thou 
doest injury to as many men as thou couldst 
give to. 

When we possess as our own what is sufficient 
for us, it does not belong to us, but to the poor, to 
whom we do violence, and we are guilty of a 
criminal usurpation (Augustine). 

The root of private ownership is, according 


to Chrysostom, an injustice that the individual 
has not, indeed, committed himself, but that 
he has inherited from his fathers. 

For God did not create some rich and others 
poor in the beginning, but gave the earth to all as 
a common possession. Hence it is an evil deed 
for one to rule as lord over all, instead of enjoying 
all things in common. Community of goods is 
natural, and based on the will of God. God gave 
us the necessary things as common goods, so as to 
teach us to possess other things also in common. 

We do not, however, need to dwell on these 
various indications when we have realised 
what the Church meant with its Christ. This 
Christ, as the ideal unity of all the faithful, is 
himself the religious embodiment of com- 
munism. In him each personal existence — 
the individual with all he is and has — is united 
to all the others that belong to the communal 
body of the Christians. They must be one, 
just as Christ is one with the Father ; they are 
all branches of one vine, members of one 
body. In this faith in a communal Christ 
there cannot be any poor except in the 
canonical sense ; the poverty demanded in the 
Gospels is a necessary postulate of the Christ- 

Hence we see clearly here the deeper 
motives that have led liberal clerics into a 


desperate attempt to expunge the canonical 
Christ from the Gospels, or to obscure his 
clearest features with theological ambiguities, 
and delineate a human individuality. It is 
anxiety in regard to the Christian communism 
that is at work in this *' Life of Jesus " school. 
In view of its connection with a past that still 
has authority over it, the liberal school cannot 
take the early Christian communism as a 
merely historical phase of economic develop- 
ment, and so be independent of it. It is 
concerned for its own system of private 
capital, when it cannot succeed in replacing 
the communal Christ by a personal one in the 
Gospels. But this Christian communism 
embodied in the canonical Christ proves 
nothing for the present. As an historical 
phenomenon, it is no argument either for 
or against any modern form of economic 
life. This communism was not only an 
injunction of Christian ethics, but also, in 
fact mainly, an economic necessity of the time. 
It proved the salvation of society from the 
impossible situation created by Roman 
capitalism, and was at the same time a con- 
necting link between antiquity and medieval 
Christian communism, moreover, is subject 


to the law of economic development. The 
first movement takes place with the centrali- 
sation of the Church and the rise of the 
clergy. What was before common property 
and under the common authority, now becomes 
the property of the Church ; and the Gospel 
shows, by means of the story of the anointing 
of Christ's feet, how the contradiction between 
the offerings now made to the Church and 
the older practice of giving to the poor may 
be solved by pointing out that to honour 
Christ is more important than giving to the 
poor, who are always with us. The poor, in 
the canonical sense, are now mainly the 
religious bodies, the fratres spartulantesj as 
Cyprian calls them ; and in the fourth century 
there was a tradition that one third of the 
Church's income went to the bishop, one third 
to the other clerics, and another to the poor. 
This movement began in the isecond century. 
The Gospel of Luke mentions these fratres 
sportulantes — the clerics who depend for their 
maintenance on the offerings of the com- 
munity, and have no private property (x. 
1-14). It is only a necessary form of this 
social economy of the Church when we find 
capitalistic trade forbidden, as well as interest 
on capital. Both prohibitions are based on 


the right of labour, which must be regarded 
as the foundation of the Christian economic 



Oncken points out that there is some resem- 
blance between the Christian brotherhood 
and the Germanic society. In the ancient 
German market individual exchange was 
unknown ; production was directed to meet 
social consumption, and a social decree deter- 
mined in particular cases the conditions of 
exchange between the corporative bodies. 
The early German right of property rests on 
labour, not on booty or exploitation or force, 
as did that of the Romans. The feeling was 
that labour gave one a right to the values it 
created. Nevertheless, while recognising the 
resemblance, we must seek the real origin of 
the Christian economic in the Old Testament 
legislation and the economic and social views 
of the prophetic reformers. In his history of 
the Christian prohibition of usury Frantz 
Xavier Funk (of Tubingen) gives the views 
of the Fathers on the subject. Interest is 
denounced by Lactantius and Cyprian as an 
exploitation of one's neighbour's need for one's 
own profit, a direct violation of the duty of 
benevolence. The two Cappadocian Gregories 
chiefly emphasise the fact that interest is profit 


without labour, a harvest where one has not 
sown. Augustine regards interest as a viola- 
tion of the equality of exchange. In taking 
interest we receive more than we gave ; and 
that seems to be an oppression of the poor, all 
the more shameful because it covers itself with 
the mantle of benevolence. 

Thus the prohibition of interest is closely 
connected with the doctrine of just price that 
necessarily follows from the communistic view 
of the early Church. The just price is a 
perfect equality of value in the wares 
exchanged. Trade is only permissible on 
this basis of a just price, and the chief task of 
canonical legislation is to secure the main- 
tenance of real equivalence between the two 
elements in the bargain.' In the just price 
the value of labour is the factor that determines 
the equality of the exchange ; in £act, labour 
is the only just factor of gain. 

In the usual form of society (says Endemann) it 
is always deemed most natural that service be 
given in labour. In the estimate of labour which 
Christianity had engendered, society found its most 
fitting base in common toil. If offerings of money 
came as well, that made no difference to the 
principle. Labour remained the chief thing, the 

' See W. Endemann, Studien in der romanistisch- 
canonischen Wirthschaftsrechtslehre, ii. 31. 


element that fertilised the money-gift of each 
member and justified the profit. At the same 
time, nothing could be said against the society 
that arose from the combination of the pure labour 
element of the one and the purely capitalistic 
element of the other. The gloss-writers and 
earliest commentators of the canonists understand 
by society a general community of goods, the 
common economy of a family. There could be no 
doubt whatever, on canonical principles, of the 
possibility of a society in which every member has 
work to do. It is even held possible in theory that 
each member has nothing else to do but work, 
though in practice the formation of a purely 
labouring society, without money or equivalent, 

would hardly have been possible Roman law 

does not speak of any society that is based solely on 
a union of labour with labour. To the canonist 
this union of labour with labour (societas opera cum 
opera) is the most just and natural of all forms of 

However, this labour economy did not 
evolve immediately from the Roman capi- 
talistic economy. It was not formed without 
some resistance in the community itself, and 
was followed by many protests. The Synod 
of Elvira in 306 forbade any person, even 
lay, under pain of excommunication, to take 
interest; but the Council of Nicaea in 325 only 
forbade it to clerics. In the Gospels the 
question of interest is by no means settled. 
At one time the loan of money without interest 
is either directly demanded, or at least assumed 


{Luke VI. 34 ; Matt. v. 42) ; yet the story of 
the useless servant, who fancies no one can 
reap where he has not sown, does not seem to 
know anything of this theory of just pricp 
{Matt. XXV. 14), and actually claims that one 
ought to make interest on capital. Thus the 
Gospel shows that in the early Church there 
was a looser practice as well as the rigid anti- 
capitalist feeling ; Cyprian complains, in fact, 
that even bishops occupy themselves in making 
interest. The early history of Callistus, espe- 
cially, who became bishop of Rome at the 
beginning of the third century offered grave 
difficulties to those of the more rigorous 

Callistus had had special gifts for financial 
work in his earlier years, and had kept a 
bank. He was at first the slave of a 
prominent Christian, who handed over to 
him a considerable sum which he was to 
put out at interest. On the strength of his 
master's solidity he secured the moneys of 
widows and others, came at last to the verge 
of bankruptcy, and was then asked for an 
account by the master. He fled, but was 
captured, and sent by the master to the tread- 
mill. Obtaining his liberty through the 
entreaties of his Christian brethren, then sent 


by the prefect to the Sardinian mines, he won 
the favour of Marcia, the most powerful 
mistress of the Emperor Commodus. At her 
request he was restored to liberty, and was 
shortly afterwards appointed Bishop of Rome.' 
Callistus knew very well how to get along 
without labour, and to make friends with the 
mammon of iniquity {Luke xvi. 9) ; and in 
Marcia we have a "sinner" that may have 
caused some concern to the Christian 
Pharisees {Luke vii. 37). Dollinger says of 
her in a work on Hippolytus and Callistus 
that she was a zealous Christian while 
concubine of the emperor, and that she seems 
to have taken her place in the Christian 
community, and been admitted to the sacra- 
ment of the altar. It is quite possible that the 
Gospel stories of the faithless manager and 
the great sinner, which clearly allude to well- 
known and much-discussed episodes in the 
Christian community at the time, may have 
been admitted into the Gospel in order to 
express the ecclesiastical feeling in regard to 
this conduct of a Roman bishop under the 
eyes of the Roman community. 
When, in 321, the Emperor Constantine 

' L. Brentano, op, cit, p. 166. 


gave the Church the rights of a juridical 
person, and so the right to receive legacies 
and acquire landed property, a new period 
was opened in its economic development. 
The earlier desire of the communities to be 
able to buy the land in which the treasure had 
been discovered was now fully realised. There 
is, in fact, reason to believe — according to 
Plank — that some Churches had received 
landed property as gifts, etc., even in the third 
century. In any case, before half a century 
had passed legacies had been secured in such 
abundance that in every province the clergy 
possessed, in the name of the Church, one- 
tenth of all the property.* In this way the 
Church became a political reality. It had 
grown from a social union fighting for legal 
recognition into the Catholic Church, the 
Christian theocracy. This ecclesiastical pro- 
perty belonged to one single master, but he 
was not of this world — he was invisible ; it was 
therefore inalienable, and so was in contrast 
to the political state, laws of which had first 
brought it into existence. 

Thus the Church inaugurates the contradic- 
tion that characterises the history of the 

' Plank, op, cit, i. 279 and 287. 


Middle Ages. Canon law seeks to permeate 
civil law, especially the agrarian law of the 
nations. To do so it must adapt itself to 
conditions that are inconsistent with its real 
nature. The clergy became a "great domestic 
economy, branching out into innumerable 
parts," but its unity is ambiguous ; it includes 
a real and mundane, and an ideal and trans- 
mundane, sphere. Christ has become the 
Man-God with two natures, the human and 
divine ; and in this theory of Christ, so unin- 
telligible to the modern mind, the Church has 
given dogmatic expression to the feeling of 
its own nature, its claim to a world-wide 

If from this point of view of the history of 
the Church we take a general glance at the 
problem of Christ once more, we find that 
most enigmatic of hieroglyphics, the writing 
of the world's history in the name of Christ, 
now quite plain and intelligible. Christianity 
as an historical phenomenon is rooted with its 
whole being — its social structures, its eccle- 
siastical orders and forms of life, its religious 
and moral ideas — in the conditions of the 
world which it moulds into shape. We must, 
therefore, take the most elementary Christian 
idea, the name of Christ, in conjunction with 


the whole intellectual culture from which it 
has emerged. The Christianity of the New 
Testament opens as the Gospel of Christ, the 
Son of God {Mark \. i). With the belief that 
Christ, the Son of God, founded the Christian 
Church, the new Christian culture came into 
the world. And what this faith meant to 
those who hold it can only be appreciated 
when we understand how the nations were 
brought to accept it The Christians had to 
start from what was usually meant in their 
time by "Son of God," and even in the 
special application that they made of the 
phrase they remained in touch with what 
" Son of God " meant in the current phraseo- 

This meaning was taken at first from the 
Old Testament. The Bible speaks of various 
kinds of sons of God. They are the highest 
and noblest races, that have not kept their 
racial purity, but mingled with inferior ones. 
They have fallen in love with the daughters 
of men, and so initiated the degeneration that 
leads at length to the legendary Deluge. With 
the development of the religious spirit the gifts 
of bodily strength and physical nobility 
diminish, and are changed into moral distinc- 
tions. Jah veh, the god of right, loves his people, 


and would have it do the right Hence Hosea 
speaks of the people of Israel as the Son of God, 
whom Jahveh has loved and brought out of 
Egypt. Jeremias speaks of the love of Jahveh 
for Ephraim, his first-born son. And when 
the Messianic hope strikes new roots in the 
Maccabean struggles for freedom, it combines 
with the belief in sons of God. The peoples 
shall be given to the Son of Jahveh, the 
victorious hero ; they shall pay him homage 
with the kiss of subjection. 

In the New Testament these warlike echoes 
are not heard at first. The peacemakers are 
declared blessed, because they are the sons of 
God. Man's likeness to God must make him 
merciful and love his enemies, so that he may 
be a son of his heavenly father. Then the 
idea of a Son of God takes a further step. AH 
men become sons of God by faith. Finally, a 
new spirit enters into the New Testament from 
Greece, a spirit that had already touched parts 
of the Old Testament. It comes from the 
schools of the philosophers, where serious 
thinkers have brooded over the problem how 
the one invisible God communicates his supra- 
mundane power and superhuman spirit to the 
world, and has revealed himself to it. These 
philosophers built a bridge between the manifold 


and the one, the visible and the invisible. 
In thought the two were one, and the thought 
was revealed in the word. Thus the Word, 
the Logos, is associated with God. He is the 
light that shone out of the unfathomed depths 
of God, whose rays pass into the visible life of 
the world in the various objects and episodes 
about us. And the Word is born of Wisdom. 
It announces wisdom, and whoever loves 
wisdom is a philosopher ; he has a share in 
its divine life, of which each divine word is 
born. God himself loves his Wisdom, his 
Sophia; she is espoused to him, is the 
spiritual mother of truth, which gives the 
world the only-begotten son, the Word or 
Logos. We find the Sophia as the assistant 
of God in the work of creation in the (so-called 
Solomonic) Proverbs of the Old Testament, 
in the sayings of Jesus, son of Sirach, and 
especially in the Wisdom of Solomon. In the 
Fathers of the Church it becomes the reason 
that God had in himself from the beginning, 
from which he begot the Son, the creative 
word of the world. We meet it also in the 
form of the virgin-mother of God, the one 
blessed among women, the dolorous mother 
of the divine son that is born to be crucified ; 
and then in the Gospel of John as the intelligent 



worker of the first miracle, by which the Son 
revealed his glory, the inheritor of his spirit. 

There are three phases in all through which 
the title of " Son of God " passes in the Bible. 
The name is used at first as the name of a race 
or people ; then it loses its national limita- 
tions, and is applied to men with certain 
moral qualities ; and finally it associates 
human life with its eternal and divine ground, 
and creates the formula for a supersensual 
view of human life, the claim of the uncon- 
ditioned and the absolute in the world of men. 

We have to put ourselves in this world of 
rich and varied fancy if we would understand 
what is meant in the Church by the phrase 
" Christ is the Son of God. " This Son of God 
cannot have been an individual human being, 
otherwise all those could not have been ranged 
along with him who showed the same regard 
for peace-making and all-embracing charity. 
Still less could it have meant an "historical 
personality," otherwise the Virgin could not 
have been given him as mother and the Spirit 
of God as begetter. In virtue of the whole 
phraseology and feeling of the Biblical writers, 
it must have been a common or generic name, 
at least in the New Testament ; the name of 
those communities that combine the ethical 


ideas of ancient Israel, the belief in the beloved 
Son in whom Jahveh is well pleased, with the 
philosophic ideas of the Greeks, the doctrine 
of the divine Word, which, as child of the 
divine Sophia, constitutes the eternal founda- 
tion of all life and movement. 

In this way we get rid of all the difficulties 
that people create for themselves in the 
"Gospel of Christ, the Son of God," as soon 
as we recognise that the Biblical writers had 
no idea of introducing to their readers an 
individual human being as the Son of God 
and the Virgin. Any man who reads into 
the Gospels a conscious or unconscious 
project of this kind will find it difficult to see 
in the further history of the Church, which 
bases itself on faith in the Son of God, any- 
thing but a strange confusion. He is pre- 
vented from seeing in this faith of the Church 
the classical expression of a form of historical 
life that is determined by the history of the 
time. On the other hand, when it is applied 
to the Christian community, the name " Son of 
God" indicates the tendency of the whole 
spiritual life of these communities — the ten- 
dency towards a divine ideal by which the 
consciousness of these communities is satis- 
fied. They aim at being the " Son of God " 


among the peoples of the earth ; they could 
give themselves no lesser name. As Son of 
God the community gave all its members the 
high sense of freedom that made them lords 
of the Sabbath, or any other external direction 
of life ; it drew nearer to the inner law of the 
spirit. For this Son of God there was no law 
but what it appointed to itself. In face of it all 
force and domination disappeared, and only 
the law of mercy and charity remained. 

This Christian community felt itself to be 
raised to a sovereign height as the fulness 
and the centre of the times. The Church 
acknowledged an eternal son that existed 
before Abraham was, before the foundations 
of the world were laid. So the Christian com- 
munity, as the Son of God, took to itself all 
that sought the same goal, the thinkers and 
poets of the heathen as well as the prophets 
and pious legislators of the Jew. It found in 
all of them the same living word that appeared 
in the Christian community as the begotten of 
the Father. It looked forward into all coming 
time, told of its own suffering and final victory 
— in the story of the crucified and risen Son of 
God — and worked out its own religious self- 
consciousness in the faith in a God-man, in 
whom there should be no separation, yet no 


confusion, of divine and human nature — the 
transmundane character of its sentiment and 
the secularity of its practical aims, the abso- 
luteness with which it was permeated in all 
that it believed and taught, and the relativity 
of the earthly conditions that it would pervade 
with its absolutism. 

By this faith in the God-man the Church 
became truly Catholic, the one universal 
Church that gives to the world the widest 
communist manifesto that was ever framed, 
demanding a communism of the inner as well 
as the outer life ; not only a rigid organisation 
of economic, political, civil, and juridical 
relations, but also a moral and religious 
order, a rule of faith and thought to which 
the individual is implicitly bound, and that 
leaves him no right as an individual, but 
places all right on a common ground. The 
one Christ in all men — the poor, ailing, im- 
prisoned Christ present in all that are poor, 
ailing, or imprisoned — that was the pro- 
gramme of this religious organisation, a 
programme such as had never before been 
given to the world. None should ever more 
hunger in the land, none should be poor, no 
ailing man should lack help, no dying man 
lack consolation. Christ was to be man as 



well as God. The Christian communism, 
that had its centre of gravity and its key- 
stone beyond this world, would, nevertheless, 
have regard to the realities of this life — would 
be a Catholic Church. 

This divine-human self-consciousness of the 
Church relieved the strain that had come 
over the Old World in the form of an apoca- 
lyptic expectation of the end of the world. 
With its transcendental faith it created a 
redemptive force from the leaden weight of 
misery, a hope for the future that lifted men 
above the cruel realities of life ; and at the same 
time with its secular programme it remained 
on the earth. It embraced the man of the 
time in the totality of his spiritual impulses, 
his moral sentiments and his instincts. 

It is another question whether this divine- 
human self-consciousness of the Church per- 
formed all that it promised ; whether the 
Church in its faith that passed all bounds of 
time did not bring upon itself the judgment 
that another, a secularised. Son of God — 
human history — wrought on it. And it is 
also a question whether the man of our time 
can still find in the language of the early 
Church the words in which he can express the 
ground and aim of his human nature according 


to his own faith. Child of God, Son of God, 
Kingdom of God — all these are now mere 
Church-phrases, not the language of our age. 
No one now understands them in the streets 
and the market-places; they are all but 
unintelligible even to the faithful within the 
Churches. But this raises the question of 
the future of Christianity, and of religion 
generally. It is a question that we do not 
find lightly thrown out by a few sceptics ; it is 
proposed by history itself — a, living question 
of humanity. 

^ Chapter VIII. 


In the year 1873 there was published a work 
of Frantz Overbeck's entitled Die Christ- 
lichkeit unsrer heutigen Theologie ("The 
Christianity of Modern Theologians"), in 
which the author, then professor at the 
University of Basle, maintained that modern 
theology lacks precisely those qualities that it 
most loudly claims — namely, that it is scien- 
tific and Christian. The book came at the 
unfortunate hour of the height of a political 
liberalism that sought a support of its 
political ideas in religious liberalism, and 
it was laid aside as a literary curiosity. It 
seemed very strange that any man should 
attempt to saw through the branch on which 
he himself was sitting. The author found 
himself more and more isolated, and his book 
dropped out of theological literature. 

Now the world is astonished to see it 
appear in a second edition. The publisher 

must have considered that the book is not yet 



— ^after thirty years — out of date, and that it 
has, perhaps, a mission to fulfil to-day even 
more than when it first appeared. As a 
matter of fact, the charges which the author 
brings against the theology of his time are 
much more founded now than they then were; 
they seem, indeed, to the modern reader to 
be too tame and moderate, or at least too 
theoretical and academic. Religious life has 
begun in these last thirty years to take stock 
of itself. This has brought to an acute 
pitch the contradictions between theology and 
science, between the early Christian and the 
modern view of life, that were at first per- 
ceived by only a few bolder minds. They 
culminate in the question whether there is any 
place at all for Christianity in the modern 
world, and so bring us to face the problem of 
its future. 

This question naturally finds its simplest 
expression, and possibly its answer, in the 
problem of Christ. The spiritual and moral 
autonomy of the individual that has been 
growing ever since the sixteenth century, and 
that has now set free all the forces of human 
personality, reaches its highest and noblest em- 
bodiment in religious autonomy. Hence the 
firstquestion on which the future of Christianity 


depends is, whether it is consistent with 
the complete autonomy of the religious per- 
sonality. Theological liberalism has failed 
to answer to this test with its historical Jesus. 
Early Christianity was autonomous in its way ; 
the Church was an authority to itself, and 
made its own laws. Its faith in Christ meant 
that God himself was present in it in human 
form, and spoke through the mouth of its 
organs, through the Spirit that proceeded 
from Christ The Church was only hetero- 
nomous as regards the individual ; and it 
became this more and more in proportion as 
it was centralised by the clergy. Thus the 
original autonomy of the communities passed y 
over to the central institution, and finally to 
the infallible pope. 

At the separation from Rome Protestantism, 
accustomed to authority and desirous of it, fell 
into a curious plight. Where was it to find 
the ultimate tribunal for deciding religious 
questions ? Was it to be the earthly ruler or 
the clerical estate, Luther or the Bible, the 
national Church-assembly or the individual 
community? Rationalism found an escape 
from the difficulty. Christ was to be the 
supreme authority in the Protestant Church ; 
but this did not mean the God-man Christ 


whom the Catholic Church proclaimed to be 
its heavenly head and the basis of its power, 
but the historical Christ, the natural human 

^ being, the Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. The 
critical knife was, therefore, brought into 
requisition, and everything was cut out of the 
Gospels that referred to the Christ of the 
centralised Roman system. But as liberalism 
lacked the force and courage of real religious 
independence, it had to find a new authority 
for the faith in the historical Jesus ; and so, 
while crying energetically for " separation 

. from Rome," it bound its followers all the 
more to — ^Jerusalem I It bids the modern 
world make Palestine the centre of its reli- 
gious feeling and thought I 

In this it succumbs to an inevitable fate ; 
the island on which it believes it must save 
its historical Jesus grows narrower and nar- 
rower. First religious thought discarded the 
ideas of heaven and hell, angels and demons, 
signs and wonders, from which liberalism 
had not been able entirely to detach its 
historical Jesus. It called these ideas the 
shell, and distinguished the kernel as the 
morality of the Gospels, especially of the 
Sermon on the Mount. But this morality, 
which was enthusiastically set forth as great 



and beautiful, is rigidly opposed in its most 
elementary principles to the conscience of our 
time. It demands self-sacrifice and self-y 
denial, whereas our life is based on self- 
assertion. Hence now we are told that there/ 
is a " shell " even in the ethic of Jesus, with 
which we need not concern ourselves, and a 
"kernel" that has an eternal significance. 
And when we inquire more closely about this 
"nucleus" of the various theologians — as in 
E. Grimm's recent Die Ethik Jesu ("The 
Ethic of Jesus") — it is found to be elastic 
enough to adapt itself to all the ethical views 
that are looked for in it, and runs counter 
to no desire of our theologians. Finally, 
since, especially in the liberal polemic against 
the sociological treatment of Christianity, this 
device of distinguishing between shell and 
kernel entirely broke down, they were content 
to say that there must have been an historical 
Jesus, and declined to ascribe any definite 
historical features to him so as to save the 
mere vague fact of his existence. 

In this way liberal Protestantism has come 
down to the last slender lines of its spider's 
web, and remains there for the time. To 
speak of a religious founder of whom we 
know nothing whatever beyond the fact of his 


existence, but who is nevertheless made, as 
founder, the original principle and absolute 
standard of Christianity, is merely to admit 
that Protestantism wants an authority at any 
price, and cannot offer one with any definite 

«i features for critical inquiry to study. What 
liberal theology is doing is to date its own 
view two thousand years back under the name 
of the historical Jesus, to bind the present 

. down to a definite spot in the past. The 
Protestant Church dare not bring its religion 
into the full and rich life of to-day, or to 
release the prophetic and aspiring forces of 
life from the actual needs of men ; and so it 

I has fpund an historical Jesus, as a sort of 
deus ex machina^ to satisfy the craving for 
authority. Such is the half-heartedness and 
the real untruth of liberal theology that it can 
only save its liberty by basing it on an 
historical Jesus, and that it can only venture 
to preach its most advanced ideas if it is 
allowed to wrap them in the mantle of its 
historical founder. 

It is, moreover, quite a mistake to think 

that this liberal Christianity, which is more 

^ correctly called Jesuism, stands on a different 

footing from the older Christianity. It has 

struck out the Christ-element from its Jesus. 


That Jesus never appears in the New Testa- 
ment except as Christ is offensive to it, and 
the circumstance is regarded as the first step 
in the adulteration of the religion of Jesus, or 
as a pathological development of Jesus ; at 
least in so far as it is not found possible so to 
interpret the meaning of the name Christ, by 
means of Harnack's principles, as to make it 
quite harmless for Protestant sentiments. 
Jesuism lays the chief stress on the fact that 
it has received its gospel from a human being, 
an historical founder of a religion. It employs 
the whole of its theological ingenuity to prove 
its ideas to be, not speculations of its own, but 
developments of the thoughts of Jesus. Early 
Christianity was profoundly convinced that its 
Gospel was '' not of man," and that its teachers 
and apostles had received it " not of men or 
through men." And as these Christians were 
so convinced that they had been bought dearly 
by God, they were proportionately determined 
never to be the slaves of men. Hence any 
theology that would subject men to a human 
personality, such as the historical Jesus, lies 
outside the range of Christianity ; unless we 
admit that it is not too much in earnest with 
its Jesuism, and that in its dependence on 
history merely seeks a way of establishing its 


own independence, its political and ecclesias- 
tical atomism. 

Liberal theologians treat Jesus as a model 
and portrait, and, strictly speaking, demand 
that men shall copy it. But any man that 
rounds to a full personality must refuse to be 
a copy, and even liberal theology feels that 

^ it is impossible to create copies of Jesus. 
It, therefore, reduces the model and refuses 
it, and in doing so only increases the difiSculty 
to which it is exposed from the start by its 
inherent contradiction — the effort to establish 
the freedom of the modern man on a basis of 
dependence on a man of the remote past. 
For social theology, on the other hand, Christ 
is what he always was — a type. The type 
neither postulates nor permits copies. It is 
itself capable of development with the further 
advance of life, and is represented in the 
fulness of the forms that are organically 
included in it. A racial type is itself a living 
structure, passing through all the modifica- 
tions that the race or people experiences in 
the course of its history. 

From the sociological point of view, Christ 
is originally the type of the independent man 
living in communion with the Church — the 

" God-man. With the differentiation of the 


world-wide Catholic polity into territorial 
polities the Christ-type in turn is nationalised. 
It appears, in the shape of the historical Jesus, 
as the patriot, the democrat, the revolutionary, 
according to the particular phase of political 
development that the national life is passing 
through. The national life now becomes like 
the personal individual. The Christ-type also 
becomes personal. It becomes the indepen-' 
dent human being ; and we have the possible 
future of Christianity in the fact that this 
autonomous personality still reveals in the 
depths of his nature all the features that give 
the most vital expression to the Christ-type 
from the first. It is easy to see, therefore, that 
the most personal ideal of man that modern 
thought has created, Nietzsche's Zarathustra, 
is nothing more than the Christ-type made 
personal. Here the individual has the same* 
consciousness of eternity as the Church once 
had in its belief in its immortality. He does 
just what the Christian commune did in 
the full consciousness of its divine-human 
autonomy, when it broke the older tables of 
values, and produced new ones to supersede 
them. The Christ that says to the necessity 
of suffering, " I will," and so makes a path to 
glory out of the path of suffering, now becomes 


a personality that re-fashions all that happens 
to him in his own mould, and converts all 
foreign pressure into an act of his own will. 
Zarathustra the lover, who becomes of his 
own fulness a source of blessing to men, who 
speaks the great " Yes " to all life — the over- 
man, the man of the future, who leads us to 
new and undiscovered lands over the infinite 
sea of life — is Christ become personal, the 
Christ that once gave himself for the good of 
humanity in the loving sacrifice of the com- 
munity, and leads his followers into new 

However, man's religious autonomy does 
not float in the air. It is based on the solid 
ground of reality. In this reality is included 
the whole of the past, the whole of history ; 
not as it is presented theologically or politi- 
cally and made subservient to all kinds of 
interests, but as a great and ever-rejuvenated 
life, the eternal law, opening up the un- 
fathomable depths of life to each man that 
comes into the world. Hence the man of 
to-day cannot be really autonomous if he does 
not understand the life that speaks to him in 
the Christ-type of the past ; if he does not 
assimilate its message, and fashion it into 
new and progressive life. Thus, while the 


the name of Christ will retain its place in that 
future. } 

In order to answer this question properly, 
we must distinguish Christ as a theological 
conception from Christ as a religious type. ^ 
The theological conception is definitely 
historical, and so belongs directly to the past. ^ 
The future of religion will assuredly not be 
Christian in the theological sense, because to 
the theologian Christianity is an academic 
doctrine, diverging wider and wider from life 
in proportion to the gulf between its origin 
and its traditional development. But in our 
day the name of Christ is undergoing a 
change somewhat similar to that experienced 
by those who bear the name of prophets. - 
Under the pressure of theological ideas we 
saw in the prophets a class of soothsayer^ 
who, in virtue of supernatural enlightenment, 
gave a detailed account of the canonical 
Messias. Sociological research has discovered 
the prophets to be merely the religious and * 
social reformers of their time. By this means 
the theological idea of the prophet has been 
discredited. It is secularised, and changed 
into the type of all aspiring faith, so that to be 
deemed a prophet is once more the highest 
expression of human greatness and power. * 


In the same way the discrediting of the 
theological idea of Christ will infuse a new 
life into the name in the mind of our age. 

-, The older Christ-ideal of the Churches will 
have fresh power imparted to it by the accep- 
tance of a secularised Christ as the type of 
human autonomy, of the man who remains 
strong amid struggle and suffering, in order 
to offer the infinite fulness of life that is in him 
for the service of humanity. It is no longer 
the Christ of the scholiast, the theological 
ideal-man with all sorts of academic limita- 

4^tions. It is the Christ of the people, of the 
laity, in whose figure all the simplest and most 
natural, and therefore the noblest and most 
divine, forces of the human soul will find 
an e;spression that is at once sensuous and 
spiritual. A secularised Christ of that char- 
acter was in the mind of Richard Rothe, a 
man whose tomb is in honour with our theo- 
logians, when he wrote of Christianity that 
" it was on the way towards a more and more 
complete secularisation — that is to say, on the 
way to divest itself of the ecclesiastical form 
which it bore on its entrance into the world, 
and to assume the features of general human 
life, which is in itself moral."' 

' Theologische Ethik^ v. 390. 


We have a ^miliar instance of the develop- 
ment of religious ideas throughout thousands 
of years in the days of the week, with one day 
of rest Owing its origin to the worship of 
the stars in the interior of Asia, the weekly 
day of sacrifice and celebration was incor- 
porated into the religion of Jahveh, after the 
fruitless struggles against it of the earlier 
prophets, and became a foundation of the 
whole cult of Jahveh in the Genesiac story of 
creation. Transferred from the Sabbath to 
the Sunday at the detachment of Christianity 
from Judaism, the weekly ceremonial day 
formed the starting-point of the Christian 
cycle of festivals, and is now rapidly being 
secularised into a purely social institution. 
But the removal of its theological character 
has only made the Sunday even dearer to the 
heart of the people. Its purely social character 
as a day of rest has given a new meaning to 
the old religious regard for it. It has become 
a day of devotion to the inner life, of spiritual 
refreshment, of impressing anew on the mind 
the higher aspects of human nature. 

The Messianic idea from which the Christ- 
ideal was evolved has as long a history as the 
Sunday. Its origin is lost in the prehistoric 
stages of the life of Israel. Then it was 


fertilised with the most vital elements of Greek 
philosophy. It passed on into the political 
atmosphere of the Roman Empire, and made 
its way through the Germanic markets and 
villages. And as history, like nature, makes 
no leap, it cannot ignore its spiritual develop- 
ment. The secularised Christianity of the 
future, harmonised with the realities of the 
present, will not be less, but more. Christian 
than the older ecclesiastical system ; and 
infinitely more so than the transitional 
Jesuism of our liberal theologians. It is not 
the badly-cemented fragments of morality that 
went by the name of enlightened Christianity 
even in Schleiermacher's time ; it is not the 
"essence of Christianity," which, according 
to Overbeck, gives the inessential characters 
rather than the essence that it announces so 
confidently ; but the eternal stress of humanity, 
awaking to the contradictions of life, and once 
interpreted in the festivals of Good Friday and 
Easter Sunday, that we must look to for the 
future of Christianity. Where we have to-day 
the verbose theologian, watering down the 
thoughts of antiquity and altering them to 
suit his purpose, there will be heard in the 
Christianity of the future the great festival of 
life, in which all man's creative powers will 


celebrate their resurrection, and the past ivill 
espouse the future in the great nuptials of life. 

We can see clearly enough the future of 
Christianity. The deeper comprehension of 
nature's spirit in modern painting and poetry, 
the living intuition that is shared even by 
modern science in its most arduous research, 
reveal to us how the Logos of Greek philoso- 
phy, that gave its cosmic position to the early 
Christ-ideal, is divesting itself of its transcen- 
dental characters and entering upon a new 
incarnation. The problem that embraces all 
other earthly problems and holds the breath 
of all combatants — ^how man, as he becomes a 
personality, may change the bond that binds 
him with all living things from a rigid 
necessity and oppressive burden into a living 
freedom and progressive force — ^will find a 
new solution apart from the Christ of the 
Churches. It directs us towards social struc- 
tures in which all life's institutions will be 
made to serve the development of human 

That is not a rejection, but an evolution, of 
the Christ-ideal. It is done in the same sense 
and with the same right that all the earlier 
ages used when each one made and believed 
in its Christ. And if the strong, resistless 



pressure of real life thrusts aside the ascetic 
Christy whose life is over, that is no destruc- 
tion, but a fulfilment. It is the eternal death 
and resurrection that seems to be the inalien- 
able law of real life. Liberalism even would 
find its place in the Christianity of the future 
if it would abandon the impossible task of 
establishing its Jesuism on the past, and 
presenting it to us as the real and primitive 
Christianity in the name of ancient literature. 
It could then claim for its Jesus the same 
religious right that any Christ-ideal may claim 
that is surrounded with personal love and 
endowed with religious force. Such a Jesus 
would be the religious expression of an 
individualism that has undeniable merit and. 
historical justification. Without the artificial 
covering that theology has thrown over it 
with its supposed historical Jesus, it is easy 
to see that the Christ-ideal that we find in this 
Jesus is — not in spite of, but precisely on 
account of, the quality of love that is ascribed 
to him — at the bottom only the religion of the 

" Liiciit, wvll lunuiired, aoncUe. lujrgMUve dUeuuloi 

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